The Pyramid of Khafre, also known as Khafre’s Pyramid, is the second largest pyramid in the Giza necropolis, a testament to the grandeur of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt.
It is a monumental edifice, a part of the iconic trio of pyramids on the Giza Plateau, and a symbol of the enduring legacy of Pharaoh Khafre, the son of Khufu, whose pyramid, Khufu’s Pyramid, is the only one that surpasses Khafre’s in size.
The Pyramid’s Construction
Khafre’s Pyramid, constructed during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, showcases the architectural prowess of the ancient Egyptians. The pyramid rises from the plateau, its core blocks composed of massive, megalithic blocks sheathed in Tura limestone.
The outer casing stones, beautifully preserved, lend the monument a polished, ethereal sheen. Despite being smaller than the Great Pyramid of Khufu, Khafre’s Pyramid sits at a higher elevation, making the monument appear larger.
The pyramid’s structure is unique, with a single burial chamber carved out of a solid block of extremely hard stone, located at the heart of the pyramid. This burial chamber, accessed by a lower descending passageway and an upper descending passage, once housed Khafre’s sarcophagus, a solid granite structure that bore witness to the king’s earthly remains.
The Mortuary Temple
Adjacent to the pyramid lies Khafre’s Mortuary Temple, a separate temple dedicated to the posthumous worship of the pharaoh. Constructed from megalithic blocks and granite pillars forming a large pillared hall, the mortuary temple sits at the east of the pyramid.
The temple, with its central courtyard and T-shaped hallway, was an integral part of the burial complex, a place where rituals were performed and offerings made to honor the deceased king.
The Valley Temple
Further east of the mortuary temple, connected by a causeway, lies Khafre’s Valley Temple, also known as the King’s Valley Temple. This temple, sunk partially into the ground, was the starting point of the pharaoh’s final journey. The entrance hall, a large, rectangular space, is lined with 16 monolithic pillars of red granite, leading to a narrow band of five storage chambers.
The Valley Temple was not just a gateway to the afterlife but also a place of worship and a venue for the pharaoh’s Heb-Sed festival, a rejuvenation festival celebrated in the 30th year of a king’s reign.
The Great Sphinx
Near the Valley Temple stands the Great Sphinx, the first truly colossal sculpture in Egyptian history. This massive image, a recumbent lion with the king’s head, is an awe-inspiring sight.
The Sphinx, carved out of a single, huge block of limestone, is a testament to the ancient Egyptians’ skill and ingenuity. The Great Sphinx Pyramid, as it is sometimes called, is believed to be the guardian of the Giza Plateau, watching over the sacred necropolis with its steely gaze.
Khafre’s Life-Size Statue
Inside the Valley Temple, a life-size statue of the king seated on his lion throne was discovered buried in a pit. This beautifully preserved statue, made from diorite, an extremely hard stone, portrays the king wearing the traditional nemes headdress, the royal symbol of the pharaohs of Upper and Lower Egypt, with the Horus falcon protecting the king’s head.
The Satellite Pyramid
To the south side of Khafre’s Pyramid, a smaller satellite pyramid is located. This pyramid, though modest in size compared to the main pyramid, was an integral part of the burial complex, possibly serving as a tomb for the royal women or as a cenotaph.
The Pyramid’s Mysteries
Despite extensive exploration and research, many mysteries of Khafre’s Pyramid remain. For instance, the larger images originally filled in the gabled limestone beams of the mortuary temple are now lost to history. The purpose of the horizontal passage leading to the king’s burial chamber, the significance of the corner edges of the pyramid, and the function of the western and eastern walls of the mortuary temple are all subjects of ongoing debate among Egyptologists.
The Enigmatic Entrance and Passageways
The entrance to Khafre’s Pyramid, located on the north side, leads to an upper descending passage that slopes down towards the burial chamber. The entrance hall, with its massive granite blocks, opens to a horizontal passage leading to the burial chamber. This passage, flanked by the western wall on one side and the eastern wall on the other, is a narrow, claustrophobic space, a stark contrast to the grandeur of the pyramid itself.
The pyramid also features a lower descending passageway that begins at the base of the monument, leading to a subsidiary chamber. This passage, however, is unfinished and does not lead to the burial chamber. The reason behind this anomaly remains a mystery, adding to the enigma of Khafre’s Pyramid.
The Burial Chamber and the Sarcophagus
The burial chamber, located at the heart of the pyramid, once housed the sarcophagus of Khafre. The sarcophagus, carved out of a single block of solid granite, was found empty when the pyramid was first explored by the Ancient Greeks. The lid of the sarcophagus, also made of granite, was discovered lying on the floor of the burial chamber.
The chamber is a marvel of ancient engineering, with gabled limestone beams forming the roof. The walls of the chamber were once adorned with larger images, now lost to time, that originally filled the space. The burial chamber, despite its austere appearance, was the final resting place of the king, a place of profound significance in the context of Ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife.
The Mortuary and Valley Temples: A Closer Look
The mortuary temple, sitting at the east of the pyramid, was an integral part of the burial complex. The temple, with its granite pillars forming a large pillared hall, was a place of worship and ritual. The temple’s central courtyard, surrounded by storage chambers, was the venue for various ceremonies associated with the king’s burial.
The Valley Temple, or the King’s Valley Temple, is a separate temple dedicated to the worship of the pharaoh. This temple, connected to the Mortuary Temple by a causeway, was the starting point of the pharaoh’s final journey. The entrance to the temple, a large pillared hall, is lined with monolithic pillars of red granite, leading to a narrow passage and a series of storage chambers.
The Great Sphinx: A Majestic Guardian
The Great Sphinx, a colossal sculpture of a recumbent lion with the king’s head, stands guard near the Valley Temple. This massive image, carved out of a single, huge block of limestone, is a testament to the skill and ingenuity of the ancient Egyptians. The Sphinx, often referred to as the Great Sphinx Pyramid, is believed to be the guardian of the Giza Plateau, watching over the sacred necropolis with its steely gaze.
The Legacy of Khafre’s Pyramid
Today, the Pyramid of Khafre, along with its associated temples and the Great Sphinx, continue to captivate the world. These monumental structures are not just remnants of a bygone era, but a testament to the architectural prowess, religious beliefs, and grandeur of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. The artifacts and treasures discovered in the pyramid and its temples are now housed in the Egyptian Museum, offering a glimpse into the life and times of Pharaoh Khafre, the king who left an indelible mark on the sands of time.
FAQ about Pyramid Of Khafre
What is the cost to enter the pyramids?
Entry into the Great Pyramid of Khufu costs 400 EGP for adults and 180 EGP for students. For the Pyramid of Khafre and the Pyramid of Menkaure, the entry fee is 100 EGP for adults and 50 EGP for students.
Which pyramids can one visit inside?
Visitors can enter two pyramids at the Giza Plateau. One is always the Great Pyramid of Khufu, and the other alternates between the Pyramid of Khafre and the Pyramid of Menkaure.
Is it possible to go inside the Great Sphinx?
Yes, it is possible to enter the enclosure of the Great Sphinx, but only during private tours of the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx.
Can tourists enter the Pyramid of Khafre?
Yes, visitors are permitted to enter Khafre’s Pyramid, but an additional ticket costing 100 EGP is required.
Are visitors allowed inside the pyramid?
Yes, the interiors of all three pyramids at Giza, including Khafre’s Pyramid, are accessible to visitors. However, each pyramid requires the purchase of a separate ticket.
Does the Pyramid of Khufu permit tourists inside?
Yes, tourists can visit the interior of the Pyramid of Khufu. The only accessible passageway is from the Grand Gallery to the King’s Chamber.
Are tourists allowed inside the pyramids?
Yes, visitors can explore the interiors of all three pyramids at Giza. However, each pyramid requires a separate ticket for entry.
Why isn’t entry permitted inside the pyramids?
The Ancient Egyptians sealed the pyramids after their construction. The only access inside is through drilling, which the Egyptian Government prohibits to prevent damage to these historical monuments.
Can you share three interesting facts about the Pyramid of Khafre?
Khafre’s Pyramid stands 136m tall and is the only pyramid in Giza to retain some of its original polished limestone casing. Its funeral complex layout is similar to Khufu’s, including two temples and five boat pits. Khafre’s temples, particularly the valley temple, are better preserved than others at Giza.
Is entry permitted inside the Great Pyramid?
Yes, visitors can explore the interiors of all three pyramids at Giza, including the Great Pyramid. However, each pyramid requires a separate ticket for entry.
What is a unique feature of Khafre’s pyramid?
The most distinctive feature of Khafre’s Pyramid is the topmost layer of smooth casing stones, the only remaining ones on a Giza Pyramid. The pyramid is also known for the Great Sphinx, a massive sculpture of a lion with the king’s head.
Which pyramid can you visit inside?
Visitors can enter the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure at Giza, each for an additional fee.
Can you go in the King’s Chamber?
Yes, among the Egyptian Pyramids of Giza, the Pyramid of Khufu allows tourists to visit the inside, and the only passageway is from the Grand Gallery to the King’s Chamber.
Can you share three fun facts about Khafre?
King Khafre established the royal court at Memphis, where he governed ancient Egypt. His name, meaning “Appearing like Ra,” associates him closely with the sun god Ra. His viziers included Ankhhaf, Nefermaat, Minkhaf, and Khufukhaef, all sons of Khufu.
What are some facts about the Pyramid of Khafre for kids?
Khafre’s Pyramid was built for King Khafre, the son of King Khufu, who built the Great Pyramid in Giza. An impressive statue of the king, made from a hard rock called gneiss, was discovered buried in the floor of a temple during excavation.
Can tourists go inside the pyramids?
Yes, visitors can explore the interiors of all three pyramids at Giza. However, each pyramid requires a separate ticket for entry. Climbing the pyramids, however, is strictly prohibited and punishable by law.