The discovery of Saqqara was such a significant archeological find in Egypt that it has now become one of the most highly-anticipated day trips from Cairo - for those interested in the Egyptian pyramids, at least. The unearthing of Saqqara and its pyramids also warranted a Netflix documentary, Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb, that premiered in 2020. The tombs, which date back thousands of years, have revealed some of the most unique findings regarding the Egyptians and their afterlife culture.

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Today, the Saqqara Pyramids - and the surrounding ruins - can be visited by tourists. It's only a day trip from Cairo and while still not as popular as, say, Giza, Saqqara is still a mystery that's worth unraveling for anyone visiting Egypt and the pyramids.

The History Of Saqqara & What Lies Within Its Pyramids

Saqqara is most recognizable by the ancient Step Pyramid, which has come to be its iconic attraction. The pyramid itself was built in the 27th century B.C. by Djoser. Those familiar with their Egyptian pharaoh history will know that he was the Old Kingdom pharaoh, and his role in Egyptian history was a significant one. Djoser was the first to create the tradition of constructing pyramids with the intention of becoming monumental royal tombs. This is why the discovery of Saqqara was such a momentous occasion for the archeological team behind the dig, as well as every artifact discovered that was to follow.

The land itself that Saqqara occupies takes up roughly five miles in length and is home to more than 12 pyramids. Additionally, visitors will find ancient walkways and tombs that existed thousands of years prior, along with an advanced system of underground tunnels that further deepen the mysteries that surround Saqqara.

  • Fact: One of the first discoveries to be made in the tunnels underneath Saqqara was a small statue of Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, the Egyptian funerary deity. According to Smithsonian Mag, this was one of the first 'megatombs' to be uncovered.

As archeologist Mohammad Youssef and his team continued further into this initial tomb, the discovery of coffins - stacked high to the ceiling - made it clear that this was a mass resting place for Egyptians, and was not, as originally presumed, a wealthy family burial chamber. Along with these coffins and sarcophagi, archeologists found mummified cats, and statues, all relating to the Egyptian funereal process.

Related: Prior To Being Separated, The Great Pyramids Looked Like This

Visiting Saqqara Today: What You'll See At This Necropolis & On Pyramid Tours

Visiting Saqqara is a worthy experience today, with a plethora of sites to explore within its five-mile radius. From pyramids to an on-site museum, such a necropolis is a privilege to explore at one's leisure, and its historical significance is best experienced in person.

Start Your tour of Saqqara Off With A Visit To The Imhotep Museum

This is not only the best place to start off a visit to Saqqara, but it's also easy to find as it sits at the entrance to the Saqqara Necropolis. Here, visitors will learn about the rituals and culture of the Old Kingdom, and it offers five different halls with various artifacts from the site. Two of the most significant artifacts found here are the coffin of Imhotep himself, as well as the oldest complete royal mummy that has ever been discovered to date.

Visit Its Iconic Pyramids

The one thing that many people wonder is whether visitors are allowed in the Step Pyramid, and what they'd see, if they were. While the pyramid has been open to visitors in the past, it does undergo construction and excavation and isn't something one should count on being able to enter. While tourists can see he pyramid from the outside, they can tour inside of the Pyramid of Teti, which is one of ten pyramids that still remain from those originally built in Saqqara. The pyramid to honor this Egyptian pharoah still contains his basalt sarcophagus. Alongwith this, ancient inscribed spells can still be read in the heiroglyphics on the walls leading to the burial chamber.

Explore Some Of The Saqqara Mustabas

While there are a number of mustabas to explore at Saqqara, two of the most popular are Kagemni and Ti. Kagemni served as the chief justice to Teti, and Ti was the overseer of the pyramids located at Abusir. Not every mustabas has survived the test of time at this necropolis, but these are in considerably good condition, featuring scenes along the walls that provide a rare glimpse into what life was like in the Old Kingdom.

Visiting the Saqqara Necropolis offers an incredible look into what life was like for Egyptians long before a time when many were familiar with them. As a civilization, they were an advanced and fascinating culture, much of which can be experienced in a way like never before at Saqqara.