By Evie Carrick
July 15, 2019
picture alliance/Getty Images

Before ancient Egyptians built the Great Pyramid of Giza, with its impossibly straight sides, they worked on other variations of the structure. One such predecessor, which has rounded sides, is now welcoming visitors.

A woman walk inside the Bent Pyramid of Sneferu.
Hassan Mohamed/picture alliance via Getty Images

As of last Saturday, travelers can reach the interior of Egypt’s ‘bent’ pyramid by walking through a narrow 256-foot tunnel that leads to two chambers deep inside the structure. The 4,600-year-old structure, which came after the pyramids with stepped sides and before those with straight sides — like the Great Pyramid of Giza — played a key role in the evolution of pyramid construction. It was originally built for Fourth Dynasty founding pharaoh Sneferu and is located in Dahshur, about 17 miles south of central Cairo.

Reuters reports that the first 147 feet of the 331-foot pyramid was built at a steep 54-degree angle, but then tapers off to a flatter, 43-degree angle at the top. Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Reuters that the pyramid’s architects changed the angle when cracks started appearing.

“Sneferu lived a very long time...the architects wanted to reach the complete shape, the pyramid shape,” said Mohamed Shiha, who is the director of the site that contains the pyramid, to Reuters. “Exactly where he was buried — we are not sure of that. Maybe in this [bent] pyramid, who knows?”

Visitors to the “bent” pyramid will also be able to enter the smaller, adjoining pyramid, which was possibly built for Sneferu’s wife Hetepheres and is open for the first time since its excavation in 1956.

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