Essential Architecture-  Egypt

Khafre's Pyramid






2532 BC


Ancient Egyptian


Height 136 m (446 ft)
Base 215.29 m 704 ft
Slope 53°10' at the top


Temple Tomb, Mausoleum
  The Pyramid of Khafre and the Great Sphinx of Giza
The second largest of the three main Old Kingdom pyramids located at Giza in Egypt is that called Khafre's pyramid. The Pharaoh Khafre is believed have been the son of Khufu, and his reign was between 2558 and 2532 BC; his pyramid was likely built beginning about then. Khafre was also responsible for building the Sphinx.

Khafre's Pyramid stands 450 feet high, and was once 473 feet high; its base is 695 feet. Near its entranceway and within its vestibule, excavator Auguste Mariette found several statues of both Khafre and Menkare. Although the tomb was plundered in antiquity, Khafre's granite sarcophagus was still in place.

Khafre's Pyramid, is the second largest of the ancient Egyptian Pyramids of Giza and the tomb of the fourth-dynasty pharaoh Khafre (Chephren).

Age and location
The pyramid is believed to have been completed around 2532 BC, at the end of Khafre's reign. It lies a few hundred meters southwest of its larger neighbor, the Great Pyramid of Khufu, in the Giza necropolis outside of Cairo.

Size and construction
Khafre's Pyramid had an original height of 143.87 m (275 royal cubits or 471 ft). It now stands at 136 m (446 ft) tall with a base of 215.29 m (410 royal cubits or 704 ft), covering a total area of about 11 acres (45,000 m²). Its angle of incline measures 53°10' at the top, which is steeper than the Great Pyramid, but at the bottom the angle is lower. The reason for this is that at the base cracks began to form, so the Egyptians decided to lower the entire height of the pyramid. This, and its slightly more elevated location often make Khafre's Pyramid appear larger than the Great Pyramid. It is, in fact, smaller in both height and volume.

The pyramid was constructed from limestone and granite blocks weighing an average of 2.5 tons each. Unlike the Great Pyramid, and Menkaure's Pyramid, Khafre's Pyramid retains some of its smooth limestone casing at its apex. Some of these outer blocks weigh about 7 tons
The Pyramid of Khafre is the second largest pyramid at Giza, with an area of 702 sq ft and a height of 470 ft. It is recognizable as the only one with a smooth limestone cap. The pyramid was constructed from limestone and granite blocks weighing about 2.5 tons each.

The Pyramid of Khafre was built for Khufu's son Pharaoh Khafre in 2532 BCE, at the end of Khafre's reign.

Khafre's pyramid looks taller than the Great Pyramid of Khufu because it stands on a slightly higher part of the plateau, it has a steeper angle, and because its summit retains part of its fine limestone casing, brought from the quarries at Tura in the cliffs on the eastern bank of the Nile.

Like the Great Pyramid, the Pyramid of Khafre includes five boat pits (with no boats), together with mortuary and valley temples and a connecting causeway some 430 yards long carved out of the living rock.

The burial chamber, which is underground, contains a red granite sarcophagus with its lid. Next to this is a square cavity that presumably once held the chest containing the pharaoh's insides.

Visitor Information for Khafre's Pyramid
Location: Giza, Egypt
Hours: Daily 8-4
Cost: £e20; additional £e10 to use your camera (no video recorders).

With special thanks to the Digital Imaging Project
Images copyright Mary Ann Sullivan.
Valley Temple of Khafre
Old Kingdom, Dynasty IV; c. 2520-2494 BCE

This valley temple was part of the funerary complex including along with the pyramid (with its burial chamber) a mortuary temple (joining the pyramid on its east side), and a covered causeway leading to the valley temple. The purpose of these valley temples has been debated: they could have been used for the mummification process or perhaps for the "opening of the mouth" ceremony, when the "ka" entered the deceased person's body. This temple is an excellent state of preservation, having been buried by desert sand until the 19th century.

The main hall of the temple is in a "T" shape. Huge blocks of pink Aswan granite are joined with precision to form piers surmounted by a massive architrave. The floor is made of alabaster.

The symmetrical rooms on either side of the central hall originally contained 23 statues of Khafre. They would have been lit mysteriously. Covered with a ceiling (now gone), they would have admitted light through narrow slits in the roof.

Indentations in the alabaster floor indicate that the 23 statues of Khafre were once placed against the wall. It was thought that these permanent statues, made of diorite, would provide a place of the "ka" should the mummy be destroyed. Only one of these statues has been found.