After long 14-years and a $6.6 million restoration, Egypt’s oldest pyramid was reopened to the public on March 5, 2020. Located in the Saqqara necropolis, northwest of the city of Memphis, the Pyramid of Djoser was built 4,700 years ago as a tomb for Pharaoh Djoser, the first king of the 3rd dynasty (2650–2575 BCE). The massive pyramidal funerary complex was neglected for centuries and almost on the verge of collapse before Egyptian officials finally decided to take action in 2006 and bring it back to its former glory.
Also known as the Step Pyramid, the structure is considered a milestone in the evolution of monumental stone architecture. Designed by the pharaoh’s vizier (minister), Imhotep, the majestic 204-feet (62-meters) pyramid was the tallest structure of its time and the first built largely from limestone. More importantly, it was the first royal tomb of its kind.
The 60-metre-high pyramid underwent extensive restoration, including filling gaps in the mastabas with blocks similar to the originals. The burial chamber, the ceiling of the central shaft and the pyramid’s narrow internal passages were also renovated.
Egypt has made a number of discoveries and concluded several restoration projects in recent months as it seeks to shore up its vital tourism industry, which took a hit following the 2011 revolution that unseated autocrat Hosni Mubarak. In July last year, Egypt opened two other pyramids for visitors — the Bent Pyramid and its satellite pyramid in the nearby Dahshur royal necropolis.