Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara Egypt | What was found inside Djoser Pyramid, Facts, History the first Pyramid built in Ancient Egypt.
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Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara Egypt

Where is the Step Pyramid?

The Step Pyramid of King Djoser, the second King of the third Dynasty, the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egyptian civilization is in Saqqara Egypt. Saqqara was the necropolis of Memphis and it is located 25km to the south of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile River and can visit by our Egypt Palma Tours.

Who Built the Step Pyramid Complex?

The Step Pyramid was designed and built by Imhotep, the famous architect as an afterlife eternal house for his King Netjerykhet (Djoser c.2667–2648 BC). The Name Netjerykhet is the original name of the King and it means My Body Is Divine. but the name Djoser was given to the King by the visitors of the complex almost one thousand years later.

What are step pyramids made of?

From the predynastic era to the archaic era, the Pharaonic Tombs were built of Mud-brick but Imhotep used limestone for the first time on a large scale to build his king’s tomb. It is said that they used around 340 000 cubic meters of stone and clay. At the same time, for the cause, they used better quality limestone from Tura Quarries but are gone today.

Why did Djoser build the Step Pyramid?

According to their beliefs in the afterlife and the necessity of having an eternal house for the afterlife, the Step Pyramid was intended to be the burial place of Djoser and the eternal house where he will spend his second everlasting life.

What is the step pyramid called?

The Step Pyramid was Called the Pyramid of Netjerykhet or the step Pyramid. Thus, it was the link between the old tombs called Mastaba and the true Pyramids later. The Step Pyramid of Djoser is the first Pyramid built in Egyptian History in the 27th century. Djoser Pyramid is made up of 6 mastabas one above the other, giving the building its unique shape.

How long did it take to build the Step Pyramid of Djoser?

King Djoser ruled Egypt between 2667 till 2648, almost 20 years and it was known at that time that the first mission of any king is building his eternal house. So, it is estimated that the Step Pyramid took around 20 years. Some suggest that it was terminated between 2670–2650 BC.

How tall was the first Step Pyramid?

As long as the Step Pyramid was the first Pyramid ever, it is not as tall as Giza Pyramid or Dahshour Pyramids. Djoser Pyramid is 62 meters high with 6 stepped layers.

What was found inside?

The Pyramid supposes to be for the builder King Djoser but he planned during the work process to have his family with him. Unfortunately, the mummy of the king is gone but we have to say that we are not sure if they knew about the mummification at that time or not.

They were wrapping people in goatskin or matting. Actually, what archeologists found under the pyramid is quite interesting, 32 fragments of the king’s granite sarcophagus. Besides,  40,000 stone vessels, many of them belonging to the king’s ancestors with the hip bone for a young lady.

What is the step pyramid complex consist of

The Step Pyramid complex means it is not only the Pyramid but the complex consists of

Surrounding Walls – Enclosure Wall


Colonnaded Hall

Small Vestibule

The Southern Tomb

Double B Shape Structure

Heb Sed Court

The House of the North

The House of the South

The Serdab

The Step Pyramid

In the next few lines, we will explain in detail each of these complex elements with special attention to one of the oldest feasts of ancient Egypt (Heb Sed). That feast was celebrated by the king after 30 years of rule and repeated every 3 years thereafter.

Saqqara Names during history

Saqqara also spelled Sakkara, Saccara is a village in Giza Governorate, Egypt about 25 km to the south of Cairo. Saqqara was the cemetery of the Oldest Capital of the united Egypt Memphis. Some believe that the name Saqqara is derived from the ancient Egyptian god Sokar, the od of the necropolis, but others think the name is derived from a local Berber Tribe called Beni Saqqar. Basically, in the ancient time during the Djoser era, the Pyramid was called kbhw-ntrw (a libation of the deities),

Saqqara opening hours

Saqqara sightseeing welcomes visitors every day from 8 a.m. to 17.00 p.m. but in Ramadan from 08.00 am until 15.00 p.m.

How to get to Saqqara?

Kindly bear in mind that there is no public transportation from Cairo to Saqqara and from the ticket windows up is a ramp almost 2km long. The best way to get to Saqqara is hiring a car, I mean a tourist car with an Egyptologist guide but the area is worth a visit and you cannot do it on your own. You may hire a private taxi or Uber to stay with you till you finish if they will not be overpriced.

Why does the Pyramid call the step pyramid (proto-pyramid)?

The tombs before Djoser consists of two parts, substructure and superstructure The superstructure of the Djoser Pyramid is six steps and was built in six stages.

Saqqara Tickets Prices (Admission to Saqqara)

Normal Tickets

Adult: EGP 200 (11 $)

Students with valid cards: EGP 100 (5.5$)

Children aged 6-12 years: EGP 50 (3 $)

Children under 6 years: FREE

Comprehensive ticket

Adult: EGP 440 (23 $)

Students with valid cards: EGP 220(11.5$)

Children aged 6-12 years: EGP 220 11.5 $)

Children under 6 years: FREE

Best time to visit Saqqara and the Step Pyramid

Like the Giza Pyramids and the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Saqqara is one of the most visited places in Egypt. People fly to Cairo, have Egypt tour packages, or they are in Cairo for 2 days from Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh includes Saqqara in their itinerary. so, the best time to visit the Saqqara necropolis could be from 08.00 am or from 14.30 pm.

How much it cost a ticket for a Camera in Saqqara?

Nowadays Camera, phones are free of charge everywhere in Egypt except the Egyptian Museum, Camera tickets are less than 3 $.

Tips for visiting Saqqara Necropolis

The first piece of advice we can tell, visit the Saqqara necropolis with an archaeologist guide. You will never find everything in one book and the guides will give you more details about ancient Egyptian history, and ancient Egyptian religion. They will provide you with a detailed explanation of the development of the tombs from the hole underground to the Pyramidical shape of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Open your heart and mind, listen to them about the workers, tomb decorations, tomb style, religious books, and wall paintings.

Read before you go and make up your mind if you are an individual visitor which places to visit. There are two kinds of tickets for Saqqara

1st Ticket includes

Imhotep Museum

Step Pyramid Complex

Unas Pyramid (open till 11.00 am)

New Kingdom tombs

2nd Ticket includes

Step Pyramid Complex

Imhotep Museum

Unas Pyramid (open till 11.00 am)

Titi Pyramid

Tomb of Mereruka

Mereruka was one of Egypt’s most powerful officials at the end of the Old Kingdom and he was the vizier to king Teti

Kagemni tomb

Kagemni was a vizier from the early part of the reign of King Teti of the Sixth Dynasty


Mehh Tomb

New Kingdom tomb & New Saqqara tombs

Extra tickets in Saqqara

The Southern Tomb of Djoser

Inside the Step Pyramid

Take extra water with you and some snacks, especially in the summer months, and drink at least 5 small bottles of mineral water to not hydrate.

Small change for the WC

Do not forget to take your hat, sunglasses, and sun cream with you

Cotton dress during summer

Saqqara Complex design in details

 Surrounding Walls – Enclosure Wall

The Saqqara Step Pyramid Complex has an enclosure wall that measures 227 meters from East to West and 544 meters from North to South. It is 10.4 meters high and it has 14 bastion gates and only one real entrance in the southeast of the enclosure wall.


The only entrance to the complex is in the southeast corner of the enclosure wall and it’s about 1 meter wide and 5 meters long the ceiling imitates the Palm logs like those mud-brick buildings before. The entrance leads to a traverse hall decorated with a closed-door pattern.

Colonnaded Hall

The entrance leads to this colonnaded Hall which has 40 engaged columns, 20 on each side, again the stone ceiling imitating Palm logs. This is an indication that the Djoser Complex is a stone version of wooden buildings before Djoser.

Small Vestibule

The colonnade Hall ends with a small rectangular vestibule with 8 columns. The columns are in four pairs, connected by two supporting walls, each column has a diameter of 1 meter and 5 meters in height. The columns were colored with red color, most probably imitating the stone.

The Southern Tomb

When the English archeologist Cecil Malaby Firth found the tomb in 1928 and according to its location in the southwest corner of the funeral complex of Djoser, he calls it that way. The Southern tomb has a superstructure and substructure.

The superstructure is like a terrace building decorated with a frieze of cobras, 24 of them to confirm that the tomb is protected day and night. The substructure is carved in the rock 30 meters deep end with a burial chamber containing a huge granite sarcophagus.

Meanwhile, the internal corridors contain murals decorated with blue faience. Similar to that part under the Step Pyramid, there are long corridors whose walls are decorated with fake doors bearing the image of the king and his titles, and the walls are decorated with pieces of blue faience.

After 15 years of restoration and on 15 September 2021, The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced the opening of the southern tomb of King Djoser in Saqqara to visitors. Additionally, the granite sarcophagus at the bottom was reassembled and restored.

Double B Shape Structure

These B-structure were connected to the HEB-SED feast, and they are in the open court between the Step Pyramid and to the North the Southern tomb. We will explain the Heb Sed separately and the building connected to that feast.

Heb Sed Court

This Court including many buildings seems they were a replica of the Heb-Sed court in the capital. There are shrines, platforms, and t-shape rooms.

The House of the North & The House of the South

Both the house of the north and the house of the south are unique buildings in Egyptian architecture. The Houses of the South and the North are located to the East of the Step Pyramid, The House of the South lies to the Southeast of the House of the North. Each house is decorated with three engaged columns, with papyrus-shaped capitals, symbolizing Lower Egypt, and 3 columns with a lotus-shaped capital, symbolizing Upper Egypt.

The Serdab of the complex of Djoser (Netjerykhet)

The serdab is a small enclosed chamber to the north of the Step Pyramid. In the Serdab was found the first life-size painted statue in Egypt for the king Djoser (Netjerykhet).

The Step Pyramid of Djoser (Netjerykhet)

As we mentioned the Step Pyramid complex has 2 parts, the upper part(superstructure) and the lower part(substructure). First of all, a shaft was dug into the stone 28 meters deep and 7 meters wide. At the end of that shaft was the burial chamber for the pink granite sarcophagus we found. Then, a tunnel to the north was cut for 20 meters containing the galleries and the blue tiles chambers.

Above that shaft, a Mastaba was built measured 63 meters wide with3 a meters high and square plan. Then, another 3 meters were added to the mastaba from all around to extend the mastaba. This new extension was made to keep the valuable objects of the king and his funerary equipment next to the king. King Djoser’s (Netjerykhet) family was buried very close to his tomb but he wanted them inside with him. so, Imhotep had to do another extension to the eastern side and added 11 shafts for their tombs. These new shafts were 32 meters deep, each one ended in a long corridor directed under the original mastaba.

Imhotep planned the Pyramid as a square plan but because of these extensions, it became a rectangular design. So, he had to make other extensions to fix the plan into square one again.

Restoring Djoser’s Step Pyramid

However, the pyramid was about to collapse and suffered significant damage. On the north façade and on the northeastern and northwestern corners of the pyramid, along with the western façade, there was an accumulation of dust and wind-blown sand, as well as loose and falling block fragments. That was not all, there are additional signs of destruction outside as well as inside the burial chamber.

In 2003, the Centre of Engineering for Archaeology at the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University was asked to restore and conserve the pyramid. In 2006, Shabraweshi Construction Company was chosen for the job. In 2011, the project was suspended due to the Egyptian revolution and in 2013 work was resumed. Fortunately, the project was completed in 2019 and was officially inaugurated ans we offer Private Cairo Day Tour To Saqqara to visit Djoser’s Step Pyramid.