Egypt reopens its oldest pyramid to the public after 14 years closed

Raquel Coto García

The Egyptian authorities reopened on Thursday the stepped pyramid of Zoser, after 14 years of restoration work that was interrupted by the 2011 revolution and despite the uncertainty that the coronavirus represents for tourism.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbuli told Efe that this is “a good and adequate time,” despite the emergence of the coronavirus, of which there have been two cases in Egypt so far.

“We wanted to open it and present it to the world to show that we have been able to restore and rehabilitate it, and that it can receive anyone from anywhere in the world,” Madbuli said of the 4700-year-old pyramid.

The chief executive also said that “Egypt is taking the same restrictive measures to address and try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus like the other countries.”

He also said that today’s event is set in the campaign of the authorities, which in recent months have reopened and presented to the public several archaeological sites and monuments, in an attempt to attract more and more tourists.

For his part, the Minister of Antiquities and Tourism, Jaled al Anani, said in statements to the press during the reopening that “in Egypt there is no more threat (of contagion) than in other countries” and that the necessary measures are being taken ” “prevention with visitors arriving in the country.

“While other countries have prevented visits (to monuments), we receive tourists as normal,” he added.

Also, the minister valued the tourism situation of “stable” and said that the sector operates with “normality” amid the alarm situation by COVID-19.

Both owners were present at the reopening of the pyramid of Pharaoh Zoser (2687 BC – 2668 BC), located at the archaeological site of Sakkara and considered the predecessor of the majestic pyramids of Giza, located a little further north.

Zoser’s pyramid had never been fully restored until work began in 2006, Al Anani said, but the rehabilitation process was suspended in 2011 by the popular revolt that shook Egypt and only resumed in 2015.

The long process, which has cost 104 million Egyptian pounds (about 6 million dollars, 5.4 million euros), included the restoration of the exterior of the monument, its internal corridors, the stairs to the south and east accesses, and the stone sarcophagus of the pharaoh.

Visitors will now be able to enter the 63-meter-high monument, built by the architect Imhotep on a 28-meter-deep cavity, and formed by the superposition of six mastabas.

The installation of points of light in its corridors will guide tourists, who after so many years can see what is considered the oldest pyramid in all its splendor, without scaffolding.


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