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Sound and Light Show at the Pyramids

Cairo Travel Blog

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Mohammed Ali Mosque
 

The five of us went to the Citadel of Saladin, a huge fortress in the Mokattam Hills. Somewhat modern for Egypt, the complex was built in 1183 A.D. The immense Turkish-style dome of the Mohammed Ali Mosque, built in the mid-19th Century, dominated the area. Its two minarets towered more than 250 feet and were visible from just about anywhere in the city on a clear day. We thought we might find a view of the city layout from there but Cairo faded into a thick brown haze. We could just make out the green Nile corridor and the Great Pyramids were just faintly visible to the west in Giza. 

 

Our taxi ran out of gas on the way to Giza.

Sphynx and Cheops Pyramid
Stopped in traffic, we waited while the driver disappeared into the crowded street toting a one-liter plastic bottle. His casual manner told us that it was not the first time. He returned in ten minutes, refueled, and oblivious to the car horns blasting around us, proceeded to one of the bridges spanning the Nile.

 

Our first shock was to see that the shops and houses of Giza extended to within yards of the Sphinx's outstretched paws; second, the sheer size of the Great Pyramids. We all stood there for a long moment in jaw-dropping awe. It was unimaginable that those monoliths were about 5,000 years old. Spellbound, we slowly walked around the base of the Cheops Pyramid. That massive tomb of 2.3 million blocks, weighing more than two tons each, stacked to a peak 480 feet above the desert. The nearby Chephren Pyramid was still capped with the smooth limestone and granite finish which originally encased both.

Sphynx and Chephren Pyramid
We circled the Sphinx.

 

We still had two hours to wait for the Sound and Light Show to begin. The steady onslaught of persistent hawkers offering everything from cigarettes to fine crafts and camel rides began to irritate us so we ventured into the back-streets of Giza. While munching on lamb kebabs with rice at a street vender's stall, an English girl appeared, also waiting for the sound and light show to begin. Traveling alone, Carol heard us talking, politely introduced herself, and joined us. Virginia, Richard, Dave, Scott, and I were happy to meet the new friend. Scott and I were impressed that we detected the subtle differences between the Australian and British accents. After the meal we crossed the road to a tea house.

 

Men gathered in the back-street teahouses to read, exchange news, play cards, and smoke while sipping glasses of black tea, chai, or tiny cups of strong Turkish coffee.

Tea in Giza
The sweet fragrance of Egyptian tobacco enveloped the sidewalk establishment, drifting from a three-foot-tall hookah. An embroidered hose attached to the charcoal-fired apparatus was being passed back and forth. We caught a whiff of hashish from a pair of elders slapping oversized soapstone tiles onto their table in an enthusiastic game of dominoes. When the sun began to set, we returned to the Sphinx.

 

Since strolling foreigners, mostly older, were still being badgered by intrusive street peddlers and camel drivers, the six of us found a secluded spot to relax inside the Mohammedan Cemetery. We sat on soft, cool ground behind the low limestone wall surrounding the site which was about two hundred yards south from the Sphinx. Several trees framed the Pyramids nicely from there but it was already too dark for photos.

Sound and Light show
We whiled away time by planning a quick trip to Alexandria tomorrow morning.

 

When tourists began filing into the neat rows of folding chairs set up in the desert, we abandoned our nest in the graveyard to join them. The face of the Sphinx slowly illuminated out of the blackened night before us. As the  'oohs'  and 'aahs' subsided, the amber lighted Sphinx - in a deep commanding tone - narrated, "...Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and countless kings, queens, and presidents have stood before me…"   That entranced Scott and I, the Australians, Carol, and everyone else there. He went on to explain the dynamic history of the region. As he spoke of the Chephren and Cheops Pyramids, they enlivened in a golden glow then colorful columns of light fanned skyward from behind the colossal monuments stabbing deep into the overhead night sky. The sound and light show was the most spectacular thing we had thus far seen on our entire trip.

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Mohammed Ali Mosque
Mohammed Ali Mosque
Sphynx and Cheops Pyramid
Sphynx and Cheops Pyramid
Sphynx and Chephren Pyramid
Sphynx and Chephren Pyramid
Tea in Giza
Tea in Giza
Sound and Light show
Sound and Light show
Cairo
photo by: vulindlela