Giza (الجيزة al-Gīza) is a Governorate to the west of the Egyptian capital Cairo - a city in its own right but for a long time now absorbed as part of the heavily-populated and sprawling Cairo metropolis. Giza is best known as that part of Cairo closest to the world-famous Pyramids of Giza situated high on the desert plateau immediately to the west of the urban district itself located in the valley and centered around the Pyramids Road linking central Cairo with the ancient wonders. One of the premier attractions of Egypt if not the world the Pyramids of Giza represent the archetypal pyramid structures of ancient Egyptian civilization and - together with the Sphinx at the base of the Giza plateau - are the iconic image of Egypt.
The city / district of Giza is important as a secondary - and increasingly popular - option for travellers for food accommodation and entertainment beyond central Cairo. Most of these services are concentrated along the local transport artery El Haram (the Pyramids) Street.
Under the former regime the desert plateau of Giza adjacent to the Pyramids was the projected site of the proposed Grand Museum of Egypt (the competition-winning design conceived by an Irish architectural team led by Shih-Fu Peng) a long-awaited replacement for the long-standing out-dated and under-sized Egyptian National Museum in Midan Tahrir. Completion was projected for 2013 but is now unknown as the project has been put on hold indefinitely.
Not much more than a century ago El Haram Street existed as little more than a dusty carriage track amongst irrigated fields leading out from the city to the then small peasant village of Giza adjoining the pyramid field. Given the rapidly increasing population of Cairo in the 20th century and the obvious tourism opportunities that the Pyramids provided Giza has now been transformed beyond recognition to those pioneering Western travellers of the late 19th century. Major arterial roads apartment blocks retail strips restaurants and night clubs now replace what used to be palm-fringed farmers' fields and the city has now spread to the very limit of the desert plateau. Such rapid development of course has not been without its costs - social economic and aesthetic - and the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities is now making some efforts to control and channel future (re)development in areas closest to the Pyramids themselves.
The three main Pyramids of Giza are the focal point of the Giza necropolis or cemetery that served the elite of the Old Kingdom capital of Egypt at nearby Memphis during the mid to late 4th Dynasty (late 3rd millennium BCE). Three pharaohs were buried here in turn - Khufu Khafre and Menkaure - their astounding burials attracted a number of surrounding associated burials of their queens family members and nobility.