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The Great Sphinx

Photo credit: JackVersloot / Bobs Furniture / CC BY
The Great Sphinx
  • (worth a trip)
  • less than 1 km
  • Easy
  • Average
  • 2 hours
  • 3 3

The oldest known monumental sculpture in the world

Giza Governorate Egypt
LE 60

The greatest mystery of Ancient Egyptian mysteries is also the largest monolithic statue and the oldest known monumental sculpture in the world. It is located on the Giza  plateau near the famous pyramid trio of Giza. The Great Sphinx has become an emblem of Egypt, frequently appearing on its stamps, coins, and official documents.


Only theories exist about the date of the Sphinx construction, but many Egyptologists hypothesize that it dates back to the 4th Dynasty (2575 – 2467 BCE). However, evidence has been found that has made archeologists conclude that the Sphinx is much older.


It is not known how the builders called the Sphinx originally, but the word “sphinx” is Greek and it comes from the famous Greek historian, Herodotus. The word translates into “a mythical creature with the body of a lion and a human head). The word was assigned over two thousand years after the date of the statue’s construction.


Sitting to the south of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Great Sphinx has the form of a lion’s body with a human head. The statue is colossal, with a length of 73.5 meters, a width of 19.3 meters and standing at a height of 20 meters. It is widely believed, but never confirmed, that the statue was built to represent Khafre, an Egyptian Pharaoh who the Great Pyramid of Giza was built for, and that the face of the lion is his. However, this theory has many loopholes as evidence has been found that makes archeologists believe that the Sphinx is much older and was built before Khafre was even alive. Others allude the Great Sphinx to the God Re (the God of the Sun) and Horus, the Son of Re.


The purpose of the Sphinx remains unknown. Some believe it was built as a memorial to a pharaoh, other say that it was a talisman, while other state that it was used as an astronomical observation place.


Entering the Great Sphinx and seeing it from another perspective is possible. Visitors can enter the Sphinx through a passage in the south side of the temple. However, two more passages into the statue exist.


Gigantic blocks of stone were used to construct the lower body of the Sphinx. While the Sphinx still stands despite its age, it is severely damaged, especially the lion’s face – the nose is missing and the eyes have been severely destroyed. Many hypothesize that the damage was not caused by erosion, but rather by water.


Today the Sphinx has been given a part of a nightly Sound and Light show telling the history of Egypt with the Sphinx as narrator. Several times each evening, colored lights bounce off the pyramids as the story of an ancient world is told.

Opening hours

8:00 - 17:00