The ‘bent’ pyramid is one of Egypt’s lesser known and less-visited pyramids but that may soon change as the pyramid has now been opened for visitors. The pyramid, which rises just over 100 metres out of the desert sands, lies only about 28km (17 miles) from Cairo and may now attract visitors to other parts of country.
Built about 4,600 years ago, the pyramid was constructed by the Fourth Dynasty pharaoh Sneferu in Dahshur located at the Memphis necropolis’ south end, which also happens to be a UNESCO world heritage site. The first of three pyramids erected by Sneferu, it received its nickname thanks to its physical features. The first 49 metres of the pyramid’s walls have a sharp incline with a 54-degree angle but after that, the slope becomes more subdued. Thus, the sides, and particularly the corners, of the structure appear somewhat bent in comparison to other pyramids, like the Red Pyramid, another pyramid also built by Sneferu.
According to Egypt’s secretary general of the country’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, after construction of the ‘bent’ pyramid began, the architects were forced to change the angle of the walls when a crack appeared in its base. While no one is sure where Sneferu is buried, Waziri stated it could be that the ‘bent’ pyramid is his resting place but ultimately, ‘who knows?’ he questioned. Either way, the ‘bent’ pyramid, which was followed up by the Red Pyramid, laid some of the groundwork for the famous Giza pyramids that attract millions of visitors each year.
The pyramid was opened in 1956 and excavation was subsequently performed on the landmark. This, however, marks the first time that the pyramid will be open for visitors since it was closed in 1965 for restoration. Visitors will climb through a narrow, 79-metre long passageway that stems from the pyramid’s entrance on its northern face. Through that tunnel, they’ll come to two chambers within the structure. Guests will also have the opportunity to enter a ‘side pyramid’ that stands only about 18-metres high that is thought to have been created for Hetepheres, the wife of Sneferu. When archaeologists entered the ‘bent’ pyramid for excavation works last year, they discovered late-period mummies, various masks and tools, and coffins. Although the pyramid will see more and more guests, the architects will continue to work at the site.
Egypt hopes that the Dahshur pyramid will attract more visitors to the area, drawing them out of Cairo’s hub. Since 2011, the country has seen a vast fluctuation in tourism much in part due to uprisings in the country. In addition to those that might come to visit the ‘bent’ pyramid, archaeologists have unveiled the tomb of Sa Eset, not too far from the pyramid, which contains incredibly well-preserved hieroglyphs of funerary texts but has been closed since its 1984 excavation.