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Pyramid of Khafre

Pyramid of Khafra (Chefren) on the Giza plateau

Khafre Pyramid is the second largest pyramid in Egypt, only about 10 meters lower than the Great Pyramid. The pyramid is unique in that the remains of the original cladding have been preserved in its upper part.

Khafra built his pyramid at Giza next to his father’s pyramid… Its pyramid complex is better preserved than others, thanks in part to an innovative construction method using massive limestone blocks enclosed in a sheath of thin facing slabs. The entire complex served as a temple for the resurrected god-pharaoh after his funeral.

Where is the pyramid of Khafre located?

The pyramid of Khafre is located southwest of the great pyramid of Cheops, on the Giza plateau outside of Cairo.

Who built the pyramid?

It is said that this pyramid was built under the command of Pharaoh Khafre, who was the son of Cheops and father of Menkaure, to whom the other two pyramids of the same funerary complex were dedicated.

In addition to this pyramid, the pharaoh also ordered the construction of his workers: The Sphinx, the Valley Temple, the processional road that goes from the pyramid to the funerary temple, and a solar boat.

Why was the pyramid of Khafre built?

Pharaoh decided to build the pyramid to serve as a tomb and to make its essence remain forever, as a demonstration of power and permanence after death. This was because the ancient Egyptians believed that there was life after death.

 

Who is Pharaoh Khafre? A little about the Pharaoh Khafre

King Khafre, Khafre Statue
The most famous statue of Pharaoh Khafre. Made of diorite. Found in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The statue was found in the Valley Temple.

Khafre (2576-2551 BC), the fourth king of the IV dynasty of the Old Kingdom. The son of Khufu, Khafra (or Chefren in ancient Greek) is best known as the builder and master of the second pyramid at Giza. As with the other pharaohs of this dynasty, there are few written records of his reign; even information about family relationships and the length of individual reigns at that time is often speculative.

Khafre ruled Egypt for 24 years, and possibly longer. In the mastaba, there are inscriptions that Egyptologists call “the will of Prince Nekura”. It speaks of “the 13th count of the cattle of the reign of Pharaoh Khafre”. Livestock counting was carried out in Egypt every two years.

This piece of Egyptian history has an interesting alternative version written by the ancient Greek historians Manetho and Herodotus. According to their version, Cheops (Khufu) ruled for 50 years, and Khafra for 56 years, the people of Egypt suffered from their tyranny for 106 years in a row.

Khafra left behind a memory as a cruel ruler. He acted as his father – closing temples and driving the Egyptians to build the pyramid and other monuments.

Khafra did not show himself in foreign policy, nothing is known about his military exploits. The period of the ancient kingdom was relatively peaceful, as Egypt had no rivals in the area. There was no one to fight with, except for the nomadic tribes on the Sinai Peninsula.

 

Khafre Pyramid: information, facts, and mysteries

khafre pyramid, pyramid of khafre
A view of the pyramid of Khafre comes behind the Sphinx, built by King Khafre.

The second largest of the Great Egyptian pyramids on the Giza plateau belongs to Pharaoh Khafre (Chefren). Each Egyptian pyramid is interesting in its way, but the tomb of Khafre immediately catches the eye of tourists thanks to the remnants of the cladding at the top, its central position, and the fact that it seems to be the tallest of all.

Most tourists confuse the pyramids of Cheops and Khafre. Knowing the fact that the tomb of Cheops is the largest of all ancient monuments in Egypt, most tourists believe that it is in the center.

Today, the Khafre pyramid is one of the most popular in Egypt, as it is the only one that still has cladding on its top. This makes it stand out among the other pyramids of Giza.

 

Dimensions of Khafre pyramid

All the pyramids of Egypt are interesting, but the tomb of Pharaoh Khafre immediately attracts the eye, because it is located in the center, between the tombs of Menkaure and Cheops. Besides, she seems to be above everyone else. In fact, this is not so, just Khafra’s pyramid stands on a hill. In height, it surpasses the tomb of Cheops, and the tomb of Menkaure is smaller. A certain pattern can be traced: Khafre was the son of Cheops and the father of Menkaure, that is, it turns out that each subsequent ruler built a smaller tomb for himself.

Form and base of Khafre Pyramid

Khefren’s tomb has the shape of a regular quadrangular pyramid. Its base is a square, the sides of which are now 210.5 meters (originally – 215.3 meters, which was equal to 410 royal cubits). It is surprising that the error from a square of an ideal shape does not exceed 8 cm.

Pyramid of Khafre height

How tall is Khafre pyramid? Initially, the tomb was 143.9 meters high. For more than 4500 years of its history, it has decreased by only 7 m, and today its height is 136.5 meters. It is interesting that the pyramid of Cheops during the same period became lower by 10 m.

pyramid of khafre, khafre pyramid
Pyramid of Khafre near the east side. Remnants of the original white limestone cladding at the top of the pyramid are clearly visible.

Construction of the pyramid

Historians suggest that Pharaoh Khafre was in poor health since the design of the tomb clearly shows two stages of its construction. First, a much smaller pyramid blank was built. It was equipped with a small burial chamber, which was prepared in case the ruler suddenly dies.

Later, when it became clear that the small tomb was not needed, the pyramid was built to its current size, and the tomb was erected on the south side and placed higher. The old tomb was turned into a repository for funeral items.

The pyramid was called “Khafra the Great” for a reason. Not only the tomb itself amazes with its grandeur, but also the buildings adjacent to it. In terms of their size, they surpass many of the structures of Ancient Egypt. A temple was erected next to the pyramid, from which today only ruins remain, it is easy to reconstruct it using them.

The temple had 5 prayer rooms, hallways, as well as a courtyard, where there were 12 sculptures of the pharaoh. And to the southeast of the Great Sphinx, the lower temple rose, to which a wide stone road 500 m long led.

Khafre Pyramid, Pyramid of Khafre
View of the pyramid of Khafre. The boulders in front of the pyramid are the remains of the burial temple of Pharaoh Khafre.

The architecture of the pyramid of Khafre

The pyramid of Khafre is attractive for visitors by the opportunity to get inside it. Climbing the tomb is prohibited in order to avoid damage to the cladding, which has been preserved on the summit since the times of Ancient Egypt.

Outside the pyramid of Khafre

Outwardly, this pyramid differs little from other Egyptian tombs, except for the preserved facing. However, it is very valuable for archaeologists and historians. At its top, there is a square-shaped platform, with a square depression in the center. Previously, there was fixed a stone “pyramid” or “benben”, which adorned all the pyramids. Where the stone itself went remains a mystery, but the tomb of Pharaoh Khephra is the only proof of the existence of the “pyramids”.

Inside the pyramid of Khafre

Inside, the pyramid of Khafre is simpler than the tomb of Cheops. There is one burial chamber with an area of ​​14 by 5 meters, where there is a sarcophagus of a fairly large size, as well as vessels in which the internal organs of the ruler were kept. The tomb differs from other pyramids in two entrances and two tunnels to the burial chamber. The presence of another entrance increased the chances that the robbers would penetrate the pyramid, but it could not be done otherwise, since the tomb was built in two stages.

The main mystery of the Khafre pyramid is the hall located in the center of the lower corridor. It is clear that this is not a burial room or a receptacle for canopy, because they are in the main chamber. Most likely, the treasury was located here. But this hypothesis has no confirmation.

Khafre Pyramid, Pyramid of Khafre
Valley Temple of Khafre in Giza Plateau

Valley Temple of Khafre

The Valley Temple of Khafra is one of the best-preserved in ancient Egypt. Fragments of several statues of the pharaoh have been found here, including the famous statue of Khafra seated on a lion throne with Horus’s falcon behind his head, reflecting the belief that the pharaoh was a living embodiment of a god. This is the statue of CG 14, the photos of which are at the beginning of the article Near each of the two entrances to this temple there were two eight-meter sphinxes.

The only surviving inscriptions in the building are around the entrance doors; they list the names and titles of the pharaoh, the names of the goddesses Bastet (north entrance) and Hathor (south entrance). Recent work in front of a temple in the valley revealed where there were a ritual cleansing site and two ramps with underground tunnels leading into the valley.

Where it is located?

The Valley Temple is located in the eastern part of the pyramid of Khafre, in Giza.

Who built the Valley Temple?

Like the Sphinx, the pyramid of Khafre, and the rest of the funerary complex, the construction was ordered by King Pharaoh Khafre, fourth in his dynasty.

Why was the Valley Temple built?

This place was built to carry out the mummification and purification process before being left in the pyramid.

pyramid of khafre

The Great Sphinx of Khafre

Near the Khafra temple in the valley lies the Great Sphinx in its own recess. The location of the statue next to Khafre’s funeral road and some architectural details indicate that the Sphinx was an integral part of the Khafre pyramid complex. The colossal statue of a lion with the head of a pharaoh, carved from solid limestone rock, embodies Khafre as the god Horus making offerings to the sun god. Since the eighteenth dynasty, the Sphinx has been a symbol of the Kingdom and a place of pilgrimage; a small chapel was erected between its paws.

Which pyramid is behind the Sphinx?

The pyramid of Khafre is the one that comes behind the statue of Abu Al-Hol, which was built by King Khafre, son of King Khufu.

 

Facts about Khafre Pyramid

  • If you look at the pyramids of Cheops and Khafre from the Great Sphinx, then during sunset you can see how the Sun, setting exactly between the two pyramids, forms the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph “Ahet” – “Horizon”. It symbolizes the Primordial mountain supporting the firmament.
  • The slope of the sides of the Khafre pyramid is 53 degrees. It is different for all pyramids: for example, for the pyramid of Menkaure, it is 51 degrees.
  • The lower temple of the pyramid of Khafre is one of the most magnificent buildings of the Old Kingdom. The main hall was in the shape of the letter T, and the light entered it through the holes in the ceiling and fell separately on each of the 23 statues of the pharaoh.
  • The walls of the pyramid are not perfectly flat: they are slightly “depressed”. Perhaps this was due to erosion, loss of cladding, or the large mass of stone blocks. Maybe this was originally intended. As in the 18th century, when this phenomenon was discovered, today there is no exact explanation for this fact.
  • The Pyramid of Khafre was called the Great Pyramid because although it was originally smaller than that of Cheops, it seemed taller due to its location on a higher level on the Giza plateau. Today it is, indeed, the tallest pyramid in the complex due to the deterioration of the upper part of the Pyramid of Cheops. It reaches a height of 143.5 meters and each of its sides has a length of 215.5 meters.
  • The upper part still retains the original limestone coating that covered the entire pyramid. Its interior is simpler than that of the pyramid of Cheops and has two entrances located on the north façade, one at twelve meters high and the other at ground level, some thirty meters away from the base of the pyramid.
  • The sarcophagus chamber is carved into the rock, although the ceiling is made of granite slabs laid obliquely, gabled; the cladding of the walls is also stonework. Inside the burial chamber is a red granite sarcophagus, practically at ground level, but empty for a long time. The first western explorer to access the burial chamber, Giovanni Battista Belzoni, in 1818, found only cow bones and Arabic inscriptions left by previous visitors.
  • At 500m from this complex and from the pyramid, the remains of the named city ​​of workers have been found, this city was separated from the population and had all the necessary services for their life and their needs: bakeries, artisans, doctors, etc. . This village has been discovered recently which has confirmed that the builders were workers who were cared for and were well-nourished.
  • The greatest damage that this pyramid has received was in the fourteenth century, becoming the most serious, to give an example it was this earthquake that permanently demolished the lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Khafre pyramid, pyramid of Khafre
A view of the pyramid of King Khafre next to the Sun Boat Museum

When and who opened the pyramid of Khafre, and where are his treasures?

The first Europeans to discover this pyramid was Giovanni Belzoni, the famous Italian Egyptologist, and explorer, famous for the discovery of the Abu Simbel temple. In 1818, he discovered that the Khafre pyramid was empty, and the treasures and the sarcophagus with the mummy had long been removed. Rather, the outer granite sarcophagus remained, but the inner sarcophagi are missing.

Before Belzoni, the tomb was opened by the Arabs in 1372, writes the Arab historian Ibn Abd al-Salam. They also found nothing of value.

The pyramid of Khafre, like the other pyramids of Giza, was plundered 4,000 years ago during the “first transition period” – the era of crisis and anarchy in Egyptian history. Even the mummies of the pharaohs of the ancient kingdom have not survived to this day.

 

Organized excursions to the Khafre Pyramid

Seeing the Khafre pyramid and two other famous pyramids of Giza and, of course, the Great Sphinx of Giza with your own eyes is a wonderful experience of touching the masterpieces created by human civilization. The easiest way is to buy a tour. You can book it in advance online with Egypt Time Travel.

 

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About the author

Magdy Fattouh (Migo) is a creative content marketer and expert in search engines for over 5 years. He manifests his passion in his role as a Creative Content Writer especially in travel where he strives to evoke a strong sense of place in his write-ups.

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