Sphinx of Giza

Sphinx of Giza: Visit Guide 2024

The Sphinx of Giza, large, silent, ancient and mysterious guardian of the Necropolis , represents one of the most important monuments of the capital of Egypt , Cairo, but also of the whole world. The story of this monumental example of ancient art, carved in limestone, is a figure widely represented in not only Egyptian myths , but also the mythology and history of ancient Greece. In this article, we want to provide you with an exhaustive guide to better understand the Sphinx of Khafre in Egypt, a must during your visit to the Giza Necropolis during a magical trip to Egypt.

The Sphinx of Giza in Brief, Useful Info

AddressAl Giza Desert, Giza Governorate 3512201, Egypt
How to getBus : From Sadat Station, Tahrir Square, Line 2 to Giza.
From Piazza Abdel Moneim Riad, bus 977, 357 or 355.
Opening timeMon-Sun: 08.00-17.00
In Winter : 08.00-16.30
During Ramadan : 08.00-15.00
PriceFor Giza Plateau and the Sphinx: 80 EGP (approximately 3€)
AdviseStart the visit early in the morning to avoid the heat, combine it with a visit to the Pyramids of Giza

Where is the Sphinx of Giza Egypt

The Great Sphinx of Egypt is located on the Giza plateau , inside the Necropolis of the same name, in the context of one of the most incredible archaeological sites , known throughout the world for having within it not only the largest Sphinx ever built, but also the main three Pyramids of all Egypt: that of Cheops, Chephren and Menkaure .

Geographically, we can place the monumental Sphinx on the bank of the western Nile , which for the ancient Egyptians represented the kingdom of the dead , due to its position corresponding to that of the setting sun. Furthermore, at this point the Nile River separates the plateau of the archaeological site from the crowded capital of Cairo. In detail we can say that, within the Necropolis complex, the Giza Sphinx belongs to the funerary area of ​​the Pyramid of Chefren , to be precise on the ramp where the processions from the temple downstream to the pyramid took place.

Now that we know where the Sphinx is located, here are some further details on its location. It is located on a stone platform and surrounded by a rock fence, but its position is still sunken compared to the rest, often finding itself covered over time by desert sand and subject to erosion and the elements. 

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Read also: Pyramids of Giza: Attractions, Tips & Tours

The Video of the Visit to the Sphinx in Egypt

Below is the video of our Arché Travel team visiting the monumental Sphinx, one of those places that must be admired at least once in a lifetime! Next, we will see useful information on its history, the opening hours of the Sphinx of Giza and the map , as well as useful tips for your travel itineraries.

History of the Sphinx of Giza

The history of Khafre’s Great Sphinx is as famous as it is, at the same time, shrouded in sand and mystery, making it an enigmatic and fascinating sculpture even today. In fact, scholars and Egyptologists, even today, are working to better understand and understand the history and its creation. Let’s discover together some details of its construction , delving into its life, which inevitably intersects with that of the pyramids, as well as that of Egypt.

The realization

The year of the creation of the Great Sphinx is still uncertain today. Scholars and Egyptologists think that its construction began around 2,500 BC, during the reign of Pharaoh Chefren , who reigned from 2,520 to 2,494 BC. In fact, this leads us to consider the fact that it is located near the pyramid of this ruler of the 4th dynasty , who wanted it to protect his pyramid in the Giza necropolis . Another peculiarity regarding the Sphinx of Giza in Egypt is that its position is isolated, compared to the sphinxes that were built at a later time and are only found in pairs at the entrances of buildings, for the purpose of symbolic protection.

In the 1980s , the material that makes up the statue was finally analysed, discovering a structure of carved stone , a body in ancient stone of limestone origin , a center in poor quality stone, which today in fact appears more ruined, and a superficial and upper layer, such as that of the neck and head which are harder, reaching up to the head which is composed solely of pure stone, thus making it the most resistant part .

Furthermore, thanks to recent studies, it is hypothesized that the face of the Sphinx of Giza is the same as that of the pharaoh Chefren or his son Kheper , who reigned from 2570 to 250 BC, although a certain answer has not yet been found today.

Its secret passages

Among the many mysteries that revolve around the figure of the Sphinx of Giza, there are also those that are still supported today by new discoveries and legends, such as the existence of some tunnels and secret passages within its structure. To date, only three real secret passages are known. The most important is the one that comes out of the back of the Sphinx’s head, 5 m long and discovered in 1837 during excavations to find a chamber in the center of the sculpture. The others, found more recently following work on the restoration of the Sphinx, are located near the tail, for a length of 15 m and anteriorly, where Tuthmosis IV placed a stele between his paws.

Egyptologists , however, are convinced that many other secret passages inside must still be discovered, especially those leading to a hypothetical chamber beneath the creature . Furthermore, a legend tells of a secret library , known as the Room of Records , where one would find writings of inestimable value on the knowledge of this ancient people and on the construction of the pyramids on papyrus paper. Here you would also find news about the lost and legendary city of Atlantis .

Obviously, these assumptions are pseudo-scientific , but it is always interesting to know every aspect and curiosity of the places and works we go to visit during our travels.

Secret passages construction
There are currently three secret passages that have been discovered inside the Sphinx

The Sphinx inside the Giza Necropolis

As we have seen, the Pyramid of Giza has a central role within the archaeological complex of the Necropolis of the Giza plateau and, due to its position, we can say that it belongs to the funerary area of ​​Khafre’s pyramid, the second largest. In fact, we can find the Sphinx right on the ramp that was used for processions during the priests’ rites, between the downstream temple , the area dedicated to the preparation of the body and mummification , before accompanying the pharaoh’s body inside the Pyramid.

Furthermore, we can find two additional temples to the east of the monumental sculpture, the Temple of the Sphinx of Giza and the Temple of Khafre . These two structures were made with the same material as the statue. Furthermore, thanks to the studies carried out on the materials, it was possible to understand that the stone fence around the monument was built at a later time, thus allowing the structure to be further protected from the erosion of the elements and the flooding of the Nile.

a large stone sculpture with Great Sphinx of Giza in the background

Its conservation today

When the Arabs first saw her, they called her The Mother of Terror . The reason was that the only visible part of the structure was the head, which protruded disturbingly from the desert sand. Due to the time that this monumental statue, with its 20 m high and 72 m long which makes it one of the largest sculptures in the world, has spent under the sand and at the constant mercy of atmospheric agents, the restoration work is also still lasting today. This allows the structure to be optimally preserved, balancing the weight and size of the head, compared to those of the rest of the body, which are made up of two different materials.

In fact, before 2014 , the Sphinx of Chefren was subjected to many renovation works, to be able to bring it back to its original splendor. In fact, during these works it was possible to see the sculpture only through a specially built terrace. Thanks to the works financed by the Egyptian Government and President Ibrahim Mahlab , today it is visible to travelers from all over the world, who want to see up close the incredible historical, cultural and artistic heritage that Egypt has to offer.

Sphinx of Giza, What to Know

The symbolism of the Sphinx in Egypt

In Egyptian culture and mythology , not to be confused with the Greek one which we will see later, the sphinxes represented a symbol of protection , and for this reason Chefren wanted to build one near his Pyramid, thus guaranteeing his own defense even after death. Following the construction of the Great Sphinx of Giza, in fact, other smaller sphinxes were also built, always in pairs, to protect various entrances to the temples. But it does not only represent protection, it is in fact also a symbol of power and the divine bond with Sekhmet , the lion-like goddess of the cult of the sun .

In ancient Thebes, now Luxor, for example, we can observe a long row of 900 sphinxes that have a ram’s head , in honor of the deity Amon . The oldest Sphinx dates back to 9500 BC and can be seen in Göbekli Tepe , Turkey, while the largest and most famous is undoubtedly that of Giza. 20 m high, 73 m long and 6 m wide, it is still surrounded by an aura of charm and mystery, as well as being represented on coins, official documents and stamps of the country.

I love sphinxes
The ram-headed sphinxes, dedicated to the god Amon, which we can find in Luxor

Sphinx of Giza and Greek Sphinx

As we have said, it is important not to confuse the sphinx in Egypt with the Sphinx of Greek mythology . In fact, in ancient Greece the sphinx was represented as a demon that brought misfortune and destruction , as in the case of the enigma of the Sphinx in the myth of Oedipus .

Furthermore, according to mythology, the Greek sphinx belongs to the Olympus of chthonic divinities , prior to those of the classic Greek pantheon, a man-eating creature , also known as the Strangler . Furthermore, unlike Egyptian culture, where it was mainly represented with the body of a lion and the head depicting the pharaoh, the Greek sphinx had a female face, wings and a beard, as well as having legs of a bird of prey.

sphinx naxos delphi museum
The sphinx of Naxos, which we can observe at the Delphi Museum. Examples of Greek Sphinx

One of the most important monuments in Cairo

The monumental Sphinx, today, represents one of the emblematic monuments of the city of Cairo, the capital of Egypt. The image of him, with the head of Pharaoh Khafre , the missing nose and the body of a lion with imposing paws silently guarding the pyramid of the Pharaoh who commissioned its construction, is well imprinted in the minds of all of us today. During a visit to the city of Cairo and the Giza Necropolis, we absolutely cannot miss a visit to its majesty, to experience our exploration of this unique archaeological site in the most complete way possible. We will savor and discover firsthand the secrets that this site holds, we will take unique photos, which will allow us to make the memory of this journey indelible over time.

stamp sphinx giza cairo egypt - opening hours sphinx giza - where is the sphinx - where is the sphinx located
An Egyptian stamp depicting the Sphinx of Giza

Curiosity: why doesn’t the Great Sphinx of Giza have a nose?

As with everything concerning it, the lack of the nose of the Sphinx of Giza is still partially shrouded in mystery. In fact, there are various versions of the story and certainly the most famous concerns Napoleon and his stay in Egypt during the famous Battle of the Pyramids . This version sees the Napoleonic army “having fun” by firing cannon shots at the statue in 1798 , but there are various factors that make this version less credible. In fact, various drawings have been found which demonstrate that she had no nose many years before Napoleon’s arrival in Egypt.

Another version – albeit more boring than a cannon shot – sees the nose wear away naturally due to erosion by the elements. Finally, the hypothesis most supported by historians so far is that which sees Muham-mad Sa’im al-Dahr , a Muslim fundamentalist believer who lived around the 15th century, responsible for the mutilation of the monument. He saw blasphemy in the Egyptian Sphinx and, for this reason, decided in the 15th century to destroy the nose of the work, which for Islamic culture represents a symbol of pride in man.

Visit to the Sphinx, FAQ

How long does the visit to the Sphinx of Khafre last?

The Sphinx and the entire archaeological site of Giza can be visited in about 5-6 hours .

What are the opening hours of the Sphinx?

The Giza Sphinx opening hours are as follows. The archaeological site is open all year round. It can be visited from 08.00 to 17.00, during the winter from 08.00 to 16.30 and during Ramadan from 08.00 to 15.00.

How much is the entrance ticket?

The entrance ticket to the Giza Plateau costs 80 EGP (approximately €3), which also includes a visit to the Sphinx Giza Egypt.

What to bring during the visit?

Temperatures in Giza, especially during the summer, can be really high and there are no shaded areas. For this reason we recommend bringing a supply of water , a hat and/or high sun protection , as well as a snack.

How to get to the site?

The site is located 25 km from the center of Cairo and can be reached by buses leaving from Sadat station, in Tahrir Square, as is Line 2 to Giza. Or from Piazza Abdel Moneim Riad, bus 977, 357 or 355.

Our advice for visiting the Sphinx of Giza and the Necropolis

Our advice to visit the Giza Necropolis and the Sphinx in the best and most complete way possible is to combine the discovery of the Pyramids , always remembering that a visit inside them is not recommended for all people who suffer from claustrophobia , for due to the particularly narrow tunnels, which lead only to a bare, albeit very characteristic, burial room. Instead, we absolutely recommend the Camel Riding experience in Giza, unique to enjoy a unique perspective of the plateau, observing the unique beauty of the Sphinx and the Pyramids in a different way and away from tourists.

In Egypt the Sphinx is an unmissable monument during your travels. We therefore advise you to visit the archaeological site in the morning , thus avoiding the hottest hours and bringing sun protection, hat and water with you.

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Read also: Unveiling the World’s Enigmatic Monuments

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