Egypt’s oldest pyramid reopens to the public after 14-year restoration

The Djoser Pyramid. AFP Photos

The renovation cost more than 104 million Egyptian pounds ($6.66m) [Mohamed Abd el-Ghany/Reuters
After 14 years of restoration, the Djoser Pyramid in Egypt is once again open for tourists.

The Djoser Pyramid, the first pyramid ever built, was constructed 4,700 years ago during the era of Pharaoh Djoser, one of ancient Egypt’s Third Dynasty kings.

Decades of neglect and the threat of a collapse forced the Egyptian government to start an ambitious project to restore the structure, also known as the Step Pyramid.

The restoration began in 2006 but was halted in 2011 because of the uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak. Work resumed at the end of 2013.

“We completed the restoration … of the first and oldest pyramid in Egypt, that of King Djoser, the founder of the Old Kingdom,” Antiquities and Tourism Minister Khaled El-Enany said on Thursday at the site.

Thursday’s reopening was attended by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli as well as foreign ambassadors.

The premier said the renovation cost more than 104 million Egyptian pounds ($6.66 million).

“We are working hard to build a new Egypt … and the restoration of our heritage is at the top of our priorities”, Madbouli said.

The gigantic Grand Egyptian Museum, overlooking the Giza pyramids, is set to open at the end of this year, five years later than originally planned.

The pyramid is a World Heritage Site recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).