Inside Khufu’s Pyramid in Giza

Entrance to Ascending Passage

The large opening just in front of me is the Robber's Entrance, a hole dug by thieves into the north face of Khufu’s Pyramid. I give the guard my ticket and follow a gently sloping path to the narrow Ascending Passage.

Into the Ascending Passage

Khufre Pyamid with SteveThis one meter square tunnel into the Great Pyramid has been vastly improved since Pharaonic times. Today wooden slats line the slick granite floor and incandescent lighting makes it all visible. Still, I find it very claustrophobic. Several of my traveling companions take one look at the passage and turn away, ashen faced. In fact when Napoleon entered in the early 19th century he left with the same ghostly pallor.

Up the Grand Gallery

Inside Great Pyramid MapCrouching over I continue climbing and enter the Grand Gallery, a high triangular corridor that extends upwards into the center. This hallway feels huge compared to the tunnel from which I just emerged. Using wooden "steps" bolted to the slick floor I work my way up to a ledge at the top, where I pause to catch my breath. Just beyond this ledge is the entrance to the most famous and mysterious room in the pyramid, the King's Chamber.

Pyramid Power

King's ChamberStories about pyramid power and the energy produced inside these perfect geometrical structures have always intrigued me. Legend has it, fruits placed within remain fresh longer; razor blades give 3 or 4 weeks of close shaves; the ability to calm oneself and meditate is significantly enhanced. All of this and more is claimed by devotees. Reports are these effects take place here also, in the King's Chamber, which lies in the center one third of the distance up from the base.

Enter the King’s Chamber

Spiritual questersI scramble through the Antechamber and inside to look around. The only things occupying this granite space are a lidless sarcophagus and silence. I make use of this opportunity and lower myself into the chocolate-colored coffin. It's an eerie feeling but I experience none of quality meditation expected. However I'd also read that striking the sarcophagus will produce a sound — so I do, and the stone emits a low tone that reverberates throughout the room.

In a few moments another group arrives. These aren’t my companions and right away they seat themselves cross-legged in the center of the chamber and began chanting. One of them produces a flute and starts to play notes that harmonize with the still reverberating sarcophagus tone I helped make just moments before.

By the time my group arrives the simple music of the "questers" swells to fill the chamber.

When to go

  • Entrance to the Giza pyramids is tightly regulated, so only a certain number of tickets are available each day. They go on sale each morning at the main ticket office near the Mena House.
  • Transportation from Cairo to the Giza Plateau is possible several ways:
    • The least expensive method is the public bus at Abdel Menem Riyad Station, near the Egyptian Museum "“ take route 355 or 357.
    • A second way is by taxi. The Pyramids are closer to Cairo than you may think, as the suburbs extend almost to their bases. Basically there are two types "“ metered and unmetered "“ and while they cost more than the bus it’s certainly easier.
    • A third way is the easiest of all "“ signing on with a local tour. The tour option also buys an English speaking guide or an expert Egyptologist to provide audio context.

Our ITKT writer, Steve Smith

Photographs by

  • Panorama of Pyramids of Giza "“ GNU Free Documentation License, Kalerna/remixed by Steve Smith
  • Entrance to Ascending Passage "“ Wikimedia Commons, Copyrighted free use/Jon Bosworth
  • Spiritual questers "“ Steve Smith
  • Ascending Passage "“ Steve Smith
  • Inside Great Pyramid Map "“ Wikimedia Commons, public domain/remixed by Steve Smith
  • King’s Chamber "“ William Henry Goodyear, Joseph Hawkes, and John McKecknie – Brooklyn Museum via Wikimedia Commons