The Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx, Luxor Temple, and Abu Simbel. These are the names of ancient ruins that come to mind when thinking of Egypt’s great monuments. But what about Egypt’s Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid?
Red Pyramid Egypt
Before visiting the Red Pyramid of Dahshur, I didn’t even know it existed. Our guide Maha told us that the Red Pyramid it is her favorite pyramid of all in Egypt, so I took her word for it and expected something grand when we arrived.
The Red Pyramid is the 4th largest pyramid in all of Egypt. Located 40 km outside of Cairo, the drive to the Pyramids seems much longer. Check out Fun Facts About Egypt
The city’s traffic is atrocious, so make yourself comfortable as you relax in your van to watch the scenery pass you by. We’ve cycled through the city during our race from Cairo to Cape Town, but I don’t think that I would ever be so bold as to attempt to drive in Cairo. So hire yourself a driver for the day and set out to explore, they’re quite reasonable.
History of the Red Pyramid
There wasn’t a soul around when we arrived at the Red Pyramid and we had the grounds to ourselves free to explore and take in this monumental sight. Located on the huge burial complex of Dahshur, you will also view the Bent Pyramid.
The Bent Pyramid of Egypt
Believed to be the first attempt at building a smooth-sided pyramid, the Bent Pyramid is an engineering disaster. However, this disaster has managed to last through the centuries and although it looks different than the other pyramids of Egypt, it is still impressive. The Bent Pyramid has curved sides but was still striking and larger than expected.
By the time they finished the Red Pyramid, Pharaoh Sneferu (2613-2589 BCE) got it right and designed the pyramids that we all know today when we think of Egypt.
Why Visit the Red Pyramid?
What is unique about visiting Dahshur is that you won’t find the crowds of Giza. It is simple to grab photos of a people free complex and you can walk around the place in peace and quiet. Except for the men on camels trying to sell you a photograph.
We made our way quickly up the entrance of the chamber. Unlike the Pyramids of Giza, there isn’t an extra charge to enter and there aren’t any crowds.
We climbed half way up the ancient temple, (another difference between here and Giza, we were allowed to climb the pyramid) To enter the tunnel down into the depths of the structure. It was just our group, alone crawling down the four-foot high passageway 200 feet into the heart of the pyramid.
The air was filled with the smell of ammonia.I thought maybe cats used this place as a litter box, but I didn’t see any sign of them and I wondered if they would be so bold to enter such a cold and uninviting place.
It was an eerie feeling going into the temple’s belly but once we emerged from the tunnel, I was taken aback by the large chamber that we entered. The precision in craftsmanship is astounding and it makes me wonder how anyone could have put together these stone blocks to make such a smooth ceiling perfectly measured and polished.
It seems as if there are two separate structures. The crude cut stones on the exterior and the smooth flat terraced slabs of concrete on the interior.
We weren’t allowed to take our cameras in and I kicked myself for not bringing in my iPhone to sneak a photo or two. However, I don’t think that I’d be able to do it justice anyway.
Instead, check out these photographs from Guardian.net. It captures the interior perfectly.
Photo by Guardian, Dahshur
After climbing down, we walked around the complex surrounded by desert. We could have spent much longer at the Red Pyramid taking in it’s beauty from all angles.
We weren’t allowed near the Bent Pyramid for some reason. I am not sure if it was because we were on a tight schedule or if it was closed, but we managed to see it from afar and grab some photographs.
As far as Pyramids go, I am with our guide Maha, the Red Pyramid is my favourite in Egypt.
It is that temple that makes you feel a bit like Indiana Jones as you crawl through it’s tunnels in solitude, smell the dank interior and imagine what it must have been like for the first explorers.
If you’re visiting Egypt, make sure to add this to your list along with the Pyramids of Giza, you won’t be disappointed.
17 thoughts on “The Red Pyramid of Egypt – Experience it Inside and Out”
very interesting, Like its neighbors, the Great Pyramid has very little open space inside its hulking mass. Napoleon would have reached the King’s Chamber through a very tight ascending passageway, past the Queen’s Chamber (a misnomer), and then through a taller corbelled passageway called the Grand Gallery. Once inside the King’s Chamber, Napoleon would have seen that it was small and lined, like other kings’ chambers, with thick granite blocks.
My wife and I always stay in Luxor,we arrange for a guide and driver to take us where we want to go in the Cairo area.The last time I went in the red pyramid it didn’t smell too bad.Actually you do not crawl down the steep incline you walk stooped until the bottom.Having reached the first chamber you will be looking in amazement at the ceiling,then go through a small hole in the wall to an identical chamber.When you have ceased being amazed go up the wooden staircase to the burial chamber.
Good to hear it didn’t smell bad when you were there. If you are close to 6feet, it’s quite the stoop since it is a very short chamber. Glad you enjoyed the Red Pyramid.
That’s a great tip – Egypt is a long time must-do for me (as with many other people, I’m sure!) but I want the time to do it all thoroughly. Is it for any type of conservation reason that you can’t take photos inside?
Good to know! The idea of being able to escape the crowds sounds great. Not sure when we’ll make it to Egypt, but I’ll keep the Red Pyramid in mind for whenever we eventually do.
It is definitely a good pyramid to add to your itinerary. You’ll have to let us know when you make it to Egypt. It’s really a great destination.
It is very informative. I never knew red pyramids existed. A definitely must see when going to Egypt.
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wow,Thanks.My next trip to Egypt will include this attraction. THANKS
Hi Forrest. Glad we could inspire you to try a different pyramid. We didn’t see this one the first time around either. We didn’t even know it existed!
Damn didn’t visit this one on our trip that we just got back from yesterday! Egypt was mind-blowing though and cannot wait to go back.
No worries Cole, we didn’t visit this pyramid the first time around either. You’ll be back for sure and have the chance to see more with each trip. Did you make it out to Luxor for the Valley of the Kings? Or the White Desert? There is so much to see it takes several trips to truly explore Egypt.
Being able to go inside one of the pyramids sounds amazing! I realize that most of them prohibit visitors walking on and going in due to conservation issues, but when we visit Egypt I definitely want to see inside one. 🙂
This was our first time going in as well. When we last visited the pyramids we went to Giza and visited by camel, so we didn’t have the chance to go in unless we paid again. This one is apparently way better because there are no crowds, but it is the same. They were right, there were no crowds. We had the inside to ourselves and it was really cool. I only wish I could take photos, but I’m glad there are sites out there that have some we can borrow.
I have never heard of the Red Pyramid either. It looks really interesting and it still amazes me how they built these huge structures.
I know eh. I can’t figure them out and once you go inside it is even more mind boggling. It’s also amazing that they lasted through thousands of years of erosion in the desert. Hmmm, something to think about.
Wow! These photos are amazing! I like the black and white one of the Bent Pyramid best.
Thanks Ellen, The Bent Pyramid is pretty amazing too, even if it was a mistake. 🙂