Saqqara - History and Facts | History Hit


Abu Sir, Giza Governorate, Egypt

Saqqara was the burial ground of the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis and home to numerous pyramids and tombs.

Lily Johnson

29 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Saqqara

Saqqara in Egypt is the ancient necropolis of the city of Memphis, the capital of Ancient Egypt, which was founded in 3000 BC by Menes. It contains a host of burial chambers and pyramids, and is the oldest complete stone building complex in history.

Saqqara history

Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Saqqara is home to 11 major pyramids sprawled over 6 miles. The most famous is the Step Pyramid, built in the 27th century BC as the funerary complex of Pharaoh Djoser (or Zoser), who reigned from c. 2630 to c. 2611 BC.

In total, Saqqara’s many pyramids were built across 3,000 years of Ancient Egyptian civilisation, including those of the Fifth Dynasty kings Userkaf and Unas, 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 today

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, and they are today perfectly mummified in enormous granite coffins.

As a massive historic site, it can take hours to see everything at Saqqara. For those short on time, the best places to see are in the north, which contains the Serapeum, Djoser’s funerary complex, and the Mastaba of Akhti-Hotep and Ptah-Hotep.

There are numerous ways to tour Saqqara, including camel, horse and donkey tours available around the Step Pyramid.

Getting to Saqqara

Saqqara is located in Egypt, around 17 miles south of downtown Cairo. The best way to get there is via a privately hired car or taxi, and it is recommended that you hire either for the full day so you may get around each of the site’s attractions easily. Alternatively, a number of hotels and travel agencies offer tours of Saqqara, which are often accompanied by a professional Egyptologist.

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