The Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt

There are few images that are more iconic than the Great Sphinx on the Giza Plateau just outside of Cairo, Egypt. It is obviously one of the most popular tourist locations when visiting Cairo and you should certainly expect there to be crowds when you go to see the sphinx. A sphinx is a mythical creature with a lion’s body and head of a pharaoh. It is believed to have been sculpted out of limestone in the time of pharaoh Khafre between 2558 and 2532 BC, which makes it the oldest sculpture used as a monument in Egypt. It is sometimes hard to gauge the size of the sphinx in pictures, but it stands 66 feet high (20 meters), 240 feet long (73 meters), and is 62 feet wide (19 meters).

Iconic View of the Great Sphinx and Pyramids
The View from Behind the Sphinx with People to Provide Perspective
Reconstruction of Parts of the Body

The Great Sphinx was carved directly into the bedrock that also served as the quarry from which the pyramids were built. The stone from which the body was carved was softer than that of the head, which has caused the body to deteriorate more quickly than the head. The body has been repaired over time and you will likely see work being done to continue to repair during your visit. There are a number of shafts underneath the enormous statue, but they are believed to be the result of treasure hunters and tomb robbers and nothing to do with the ancient Egyptians who created the Great Sphinx.

Full View of the Front of the Great Sphinx
Standing in Front of the Sphinx
Vendors Next to the Sphinx Viewing Area

Seeing the statue from the front with the pyramids in the background is certainly the most common image that people associate with the sphinx. With that said, seeing the Great Sphinx from other angles is certainly quite fascinating and does help with getting a perspective of how large it truly is. In addition to the crowds, there are also a long line of stalls with vendors selling items for tourists and you shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t have children and others coming up to you either begging or trying to sell you items as well. There is no doubt that seeing the Great Sphinx in person is something that you will never forget.

Another View from Behind the Sphinx with Cairo in the Background
Side View of the Pharaoh Head

The Tradition of Arches as Monuments

Manmade arches have been used to commemorate both people as well as historical events all throughout history. Many of them draw tourists to see their grandeur, architecture, and beauty in cities around the world. One of the most famous, of course, is the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but there are many others as well. If you visit the Colosseum in Rome, you will find the Arch of Constantine with its three arches. One of the more interesting arches that we’ve seen was Patuxai (Victory Gate) in Vientiane, Laos. All of them are truly fascinating to see and to understand the history that they memorialize.

Washington Square Arch in New York City
Patuxai in Vientiane
Arch of Constantine in Rome
Entrance to Hoa Lu in the Ninh Binh Province of Vietnam
The Arc de Triomphe in Paris on a Rainy Day

Historiensäule Monument in Koblenz, Germany

We saw a wide variety of interesting monuments, fountains, and statues during our time in Europe. Of particular interest was a monument in Koblenz, Germany, that depicts 2000 years of the city’s history in a single fountain/monument called Historiensäule. Each ring of the monument depicts different eras of the city’s history and is quite fascinating. It is well worth walking around the fountain to see it from every angle as each offers its own perspective. We visited Koblenz in October of 2016, so the trees were in full autumn foliage all along the Rhine River and made for a perfect backdrop for many of the sights that we saw, including this unique monument made of metal. There is a plaque describing the different rings, included here, so that you can interpret the intent of the artist.

Historiensäule Monument/Fountain
Middle Centuries
Towering Today
Guide to the History
Head-on View
Close-up of the Fountain
Another View