What to see in Egypt

Saqqara

Tourist attractions Saqqara

We all know about the Great Pyramids of Egypt, but perhaps you’ve never heard of the incredible ancient site of Saqqara before? Located just 20 miles south of Cairo, Saqqara is one of the most mysterious and spectacular ancient sites in Egypt. Once serving as the vast necropolis of the ancient capital of Memphis, a trip to Saqqara is a unique experience to include on a tour of Egypt.

Most prominent is the site’s enormous stepped pyramid, known as the Pyramid of Djoser. The oldest in the country, this striking structure dates back days of the Third Dynasty. The necropolis covers an area of around 5 miles and encompasses dozens of other pyramids along with remains of temples, tombs and walkways. But, it is what lies beneath that is most astounding. A vast complex of underground burial chambers and so-called ‘mega tombs’ are concealed belowground at Saqqara. After all, the site was used as the final resting place for ancient Egyptian nobles for over 3,500 years. In recent years, the tombs unearthed by archaeologists at Saqqara have gained worldwide attention. Many are excellently preserved and highly decorative and have helped historians understand many secrets of the ancient Egyptian civilization and belief systems at the time. 

Indeed, visiting Saqqara is the chance to uncover one of the oldest and most influential archaeological sites in Egypt, and to come face to face with the pyramid that is thought to have inspired one of the ancient wonders of the world!

Things to see at Saqqara

Undoubtedly, any tour of Saqqara will focus on the iconic Pyramid of Djoser, the oldest in the country. Built by Imhotep, the most renowned ancient Egyptian architect of all time, the pyramid measures 60-metres in height and was constructed around 2630 BCE. A true feat of engineering that has stood the test of time, it's surely one of the best things to see at Saqqara! Furthermore, the Pyramid of Djoser is thought to have been an innovation at the time, Imhotep’s first attempt at creating a new type of burial site. Following its construction, other nobles and kings began to commission their own pyramids at Saqqara. Therefore, if you travel to Saqqara you can visit the burial sites of numerous Old Kingdom kings.

One of the most magnificent examples of tombs from this era is the Mastaba of Ti, among the best things to see at Saqqara. It contains highly decorative scenes depicting everyday life along with a lifesize statue of Pharaoh Ti himself! 

Another of the best things to see at Saqqara is the incredible Memphite Tomb of Horemheb, the burial place of the highest-ranking military officer from the reign of Tutankhamun! The largest tomb in the New Kingdom section of the site, its walls are teeming with hieroglyphs and depictions of important events in ancient Egyptian history. Without a doubt, it is one of the most impressive things to see if you travel to Saqqara!

Finally, no tour of Saqqara would be complete without contemplating the mysterious Serapeum, the burial place of the sacred Apis bulls. Associated with the god Pha, the Apis bulls were one of the most important animal deities in ancient Egypt, and their final resting place goes to show just how revered they were. As Memphis was a centre for the cult of Pha, the bulls mummified laid to rest here would have received great attention and care during their lifetime. If you visit the tomb, you’ll first pass down an avenue guarded by sphinx statues before entering two long underground corridors leading to the burial tombs. 

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