We enjoyed seeing a wonderful variety of pyramids during our time in Cairo, but visiting Dahshur was probably one of our most interesting experiences. First, we were virtually by ourselves as we walked around the pyramids as there were less than a dozen total other visitors there during the time that we spent there. Also, since it is the site of the first smooth sided pyramids, one successful and a couple of others that weren’t successful, it is an interesting look into the learning that occurred by the ancient Egyptians to create what would later become the Great Pyramids. Dahshur is located out in a remote area of the desert, which was purposeful as they wanted the pyramids to be away from any well-traveled area.
We visited two of the pyramids, the first being what is commonly referred to as the “Bent Pyramid” as they miscalculated the dimensions of the sides and had to curve the walls as it neared the peak in order to keep it from collapsing. Although it was never used as a tomb, it is certainly still fascinating to see. Imagine all of the work that must have gone into building such a structure only to deem it a failure despite the fact that it has survived thousands of years. From the bent pyramid, you can see the ruins of another pyramid that collapsed called the Black Pyramid, which was actually built in a later time period, as well as the first actual smooth sided pyramid off in the distance. Standing in the desert and seeing the pyramid off in the distance was very surreal and it almost felt as if we were standing on the surface of Mars or some other distant planet.
Visiting the Red Pyramid as it is called due to the color of the stones that were used to build it, was simply amazing. Partly due to the fact that we were basically alone as we visited it, but also because we were able to climb up to the entrance and then down the steep tunnel leading to the tomb and antechambers. Although it was well worth the effort, be prepared for a steep climb up and down and the tunnel is only about 4 feet high (1 1/3 meters), so you have to crouch as you scoot your way down. The ground of the tunnel was smooth, so wooden boards with metal slats have been added to allow you to keep from sliding down the near 45 degree angle. In addition to the physical exertion, be prepared for the heat. In the desert heat, climbing into the pyramid is almost like climbing inside of a clay oven.
Although there aren’t any colorful hieroglyphs or anything remaining inside of the tomb and antechambers, seeing the Red Pyramid in Dahshur is definitely an amazing sight. The Red and Bent Pyramids were both built by King Sneferu between 2613 and 2589 BC, which makes them almost 5000 years old. The son of King Sneferu, King Khufu, would be inspired by his father to build his own pyramid, which is now one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is known as The Great Pyramid of Giza. Obviously we would make our way to see the Great Pyramids, but seeing the pyramids of Dahshur was the perfect way to start our time in the Giza Plateau.