Located in Saqqara, just south of Cairo, the 4,700-year-old Pharaoh Djoser pyramid, stands tall today as the oldest in Egypt, reopening its doors to the public after several years of renovation.
It is quite simply the first stone building in the world, according to the Minister of Antiquities and Tourism Khaled el-Enany, who announced its reopening during a ceremony at the foot of the graded pyramid.
The first family necropolis
Some 20 km south of Cairo, in the region of Memphis, the country’s first capital, the Pyramid stands above what was the first family necropolis of the Pharaonic era, Djoser initiating this practice.
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Built in 2700 B.C. by the architect Imhotep, the pyramid nests a vast pink granite tomb in its womb, 28 meters deep.
A long-standing project
Commenced in 2006, the project to renovate the pyramid had to be interrupted in 2011 amidst the mass uprisings, for security reasons. Fast-forward to two years later, the construction resumed and have come to an end today, to the delight of history buffs. Altogether the project will have cost no less than 104 million Egyptian pounds, the equivalent of approximately $6.5 million.
A controversial recovery
In the past, the project was subject to criticism from local, Egyptian NGOs. In 2014, the latter stirred up a heated debate, arguing that the renovation project damaged the pyramid more than it restored it. UNESCO jumped into the discussion, issuing reports for the workers to base themselves off of, in order to carry work in accordance with legal and cultural standards.