The Pyramids of Giza are enough to leave anyone spellbound - after all the Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing today. But it would be a mistake to only focus on the Giza necropolis. Giza is just one of several ancient pyramid necropolises in Egypt and each is worth a visit for its own reasons. Saqqara is a vast pyramid necropolis site just a day trip from Cairo.
Tourists can visit Saqqara and without a doubt, Saqqara is very much worth visiting. There are plenty of tours to see the wonders of Egypt's Old Kingdom at Saqqara. One of its main attractions is the Step Pyramid of Djoser - known as the oldest complete stone building complex in Egypt or anywhere in the world.
Why Saqqara Is So Important
Saqqara and the neighboring sites of Dahshur and Abu Sir are special for being where pyramid building all began many thousands of years ago.
- Location: 19 miles or 30 km South Of Cairo
- Area: 7 by 1.5 km (4.3 by 0.9 mi)
- Designated: World Heritage Site Since 1979
Saqqara continued in importance for thousands of years (around 3,000 years) and was still used in the Ptolemaic and Roman times. In these later times, it was used for non-royal burials and cult ceremonies.
Saqqara is also important for new discoveries from ongoing archeological work being down at the site. One of the most recent finds is that of the funerary tomb of Queen Nearit another major find was 52 burial shafts with over 50 coffins. Saqqara is sure to still hold more secrets that it hasn't yet given up.
The Pyramids & Ancient Structures At Saqqara
Saqqara is an important site for having some of the oldest and most famous pyramids. At Saqqara, one will find the Step Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid, and the Red Pyramid. These represent some Old Kingdom of Egypt's most dazzling treasures still around today.
Top Attractions At Saqqara:
- The Step Pyramid of Djoser: Oldest Pyramid
- The Pyramid of Teti: A Smooth-Side Pyramid and Second Known Pyramid with Pyramid Texts
- Serapeum of Saqqara: An ancient Egyptian burial place for sacred bulls of the Apis cult at Memphis
- Imhotep Museum: Museum Exhibiting Treasures of the Necropolis
- Mastaba of Ti: One of The Most Famous Tombs of the Old Kingdom
- Bent Pyramid: The Pyramid With An Engineering Fault
The most famous pyramid at Saqqara is the Step Pyramid of Djoser otherwise known as the Step Pyramid. The Step Pyramid is believed to be the oldest complete stone building complex in the world and the earliest known in history. There are also many mastaba tombs that predate the pyramids.
The Saqqara necropolis is sprawling covering a very large site. So if one only has a short amount of time, one should prioritize. The most important things to see are the Imhotep Museum, the Step Pyramid, the Pyramid of Teti, the Serapeum, and the Mastaba of Ti to see the best of Saqqara.
- Best Time To Visit Saqqara: After The Heat Of Summer
Imhotep Museum is a fairly recent museum having only opened in 2006 and is dedicated to the Egyptian architect Imhotep (who is credited with being the first Egyptians to build monumental structures out of stone). In the museum, one will see exhibits from all around the Saqqara necropolis area.
- Tip: Begin The Tour In The Imhotep Museum
- Opening Hours: 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
The museum also provides more secure storage space for priceless artifacts. They can be more easily protected from theft and stored in climate-controlled conditions than in traditional storehouses.
Tour Of The Saqqara Necropolis
There are plenty of tours to Saqqara from Giza and Cairo. These are often bundled with other destinations like the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and Dahshur. This example full-day tour offered by Emo Tours starts with a pickup at 8.00 am from one's hotel. See the Giza Pyramids, Saqqara (including the Step Pyramid), and the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis all in one day.
- Cost: $48-60
- Duration: Approx 9 Hours
- Included: Licensed Guide, Admission Fees, Hotel Pick Up, Transport
- Excluded: Lunch
There are plenty more guided tours to choose from. If one is wanting to spend more time in each place, then consider finding a tour that goes to only one necropolis.