Saqqara was the burial place of the city of Memphis, the capital of Ancient Egypt founded in 3000 BC by Menes.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Saqqara is home to eleven major pyramids sprawled over six miles, including the first ever pyramid, known as the Step Pyramid and funerary complex of pharaoh Djoser (or Zoser), who reigned from c. 2630 to c. 2611 BC.
Saqqara’s pyramids and tombs were built across over three thousand years of Ancient Egyptian civilization, from the tombs of Fifth Dynasty kings such as Userkaf and the pyramid of Unas, with its walls filled with magical spells, to the incredibly well preserved Pyramid of Teti I, built by the first ruler of the Sixth Dynasty. Some believe that Teti I, whose queen is also buried at Saqqara, was assassinated by his bodyguard.
Saqqara is filled with historical treasures, not least of which is the Serapeum where the Egyptians buried the sacred bulls of Apis. The Egyptians believed these bulls were reincarnations of the deity, Ptah. The bulls are perfectly mummified and contained in enormous granite coffins.
Saqqara is a massive historic site and, for those short on time the best places to see are in the north, including the Serapeum, Djoser’s funerary complex and, in between these two, the Mastaba of Akhti-Hotep and Ptah-Hotep, the son and grandson of official Ptah-Hotep.
There are numerous ways to tour Saqqara, including camel, horse and donkey tours available around the Step Pyramid.