Abusir Pyramids Complex – An Ancient And Noble Burial Ground

The Abusir Pyramids Complex rarely gets the recognition it deserves, and in fact, many guide books and tour brochures don’t even mention it. It truth however, it’s a places of great historical significance since it was once the final resting ground for many pharaohs; nobles and other important officials, and particularly for those who lived during the time of the 5th Dynasty in Egypt’s Old Kingdom era.

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Abusir Complex - Pyramid complex of Sahure, view to the west, Abusir Complex - Photo by Roland Unger

Pyramid complex of Sahure, view to the west, Abusir.

The Abusir complex, sometimes called Abu Sir, is an extensive royal necropolis located relatively close to Cairo. It served as an Elite Cemetry for the ancient city of Memphis, as did the Giza necropolis; Dahshur necropolis and the Saqqara necropolis. Technically speaking, it is part of one giant pyramid field that encompasses all the various pyramid complexes in the area surround modern day Cairo.

Because of the sheer size of most pyramids, the “elite” status associated with the Giza necropolis, the area was soon full of pyramids, and new burial grounds had to be found. The Abusir complex is just one such burial ground.

Abusir Complex – A Pyramid Hunter’s Paradise

If you have a passion for visiting and exploring these iconic ancient structures, then you really do not want to miss out on a visit to the Abusir complex because it is home to fourteen different pyramids. However, many historians only consider eight of them to be historically important – four which belonged to pharaohs; three that belonged to queens, and one unmarked pyramid that was never completed.

Pyramid of Sahure

As the name suggests, this particular pyramid belonged to Pharaoh Sahure, the second pharaoh of the 5th Dynasty. This is the most popular pyramid at the Abusir complex, and also the most famous because of its beautifully carved reliefs. One of the first things you’ll notice when visiting the Abusir complex, is that all apart from one of the pyramids are smaller than those pyramids that were constructed during the 4th Dynasty. The stone used for their construction is also of inferior quality by comparison.

Pyramid of Neferirkare

This was the second pyramid built in the Abusir complex, and it is also the biggest pyramid at the site. It was built between 2477 BCE and 2467 for Pharao Neferirkare who was the 3rd pharaoh of the 5th Dynasty. Unfortunately the king suffered an untimely death before the pyramid was completed. At the time of his death, the pyramid had reached a height of 72.8 meters, although what remains of it today only measures 50 meters.

Pyramid of Niuserre

The Pyramid of Niuserre is unique for two reasons, with the first being that it is the most intact pyramid at the Abusir complex. The second reason is somewhat more intriguing however. Niuserre was only the son of a king, meaning that he was never a pharaoh. Nonetheless, he all but destroyed the causeway leading into his father’s temple in order to build his own.

All the pyramids in the necropolis are step pyramids apart from Neferirkare’s pyramid which at some point had its steps filled in to create a smooth sided pyramid. Several tombs belonging to high ranking officials and their families are located in the vicinity of the King’s pyramid under who reign they served.

Abusir South

While Abusir South is technically a part of the necropolis, the name actually refers to a smaller cemetery that was reserved for lower ranking officials. The area is home to several tombs belonging to priests, architects and etc.

How to Get to the Abusir Pyramids Complex?

A visit to the Abusir complex is sometimes included in a comprehensive visit to the other famous necropolises in the area, such as Saqqara for example. However, because the location is distinctly outside of the normal itineraries, many visitors are pleasantly surprised by its lack of crowding and unimpeded access to many of the structures. Some of the pyramids of Abusir are open for interior visits, with several having burial chambers still intact.

NOTE: As of writing, there are no public transport services operating between Cairo and the Abusir complex. The only way to visit this fascinating site is by means of a hired car or with a guide/personal driver. If you have booked your tour package through us, the cost of the tour includes a guide and personal driver. If your first language is not English, please let us know beforehand so that we can assign you a guide which is fluent in the language of your choice.

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Remember, if you want to visit the Abusir complex and you don’t see it mentioned in the itinerary of your chosen tour, just tell us and we make the necessary changes.