Egypt opens Bent Pyramid to tourists

(CNN) — The pyramids of Egypt have long attracted visitors intrigued by their ancient history, and now travelers have the opportunity to visit a distinctive structure just south of Cairo.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled al Anani led a party of foreign ambassadors to the Dahshur Necropolis to inaugurate the so-called Bent Pyramid on Saturday, according to state media agency Al Ahram.

Tourists will be able to get inside the pyramid for the first time since 1965 thanks to a restoration project, with a 79-meter-long (260-foot) passageway leading to two burial chambers, Reuters reported.

This sarcophagus was part of a new discovery near the Bent Pyramid.

This sarcophagus was part of a new discovery near the Bent Pyramid.

Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images

The 4,600-year-old pyramid, which sits 25 miles south of the Egyptian capital Cairo, gets its name from its unusual shape, with two different angles of inclination.

The 101-meter-high (331 foot) structure was built for Pharaoh Senefru — also known as Sneferu or Snefru — around 2,600 BCE, and is a prime example of early pyramid development.

Builders noticed signs of instability during construction and changed the angle of the pyramid part-way through the project, leaving it with a distinctive shape.

The Bent Pyramid later started to show wear and tear, so another structure — the Red Pyramid — was built nearby as a royal burial site, according to state media.

Some of the sarcophagi contained well-preserved mummies.

Some of the sarcophagi contained well-preserved mummies.

Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images

The pyramid is found at Dahshur, part of the Memphis Necropolis, which also includes the Giza Pyramids, the minister of antiquities said.

“Dahshur is a very important archaeological site with five pyramids at least: two pyramids of Sneferu — the Bent Pyramid and the northern or the Red Pyramid — and three pyramids of the Middle Kingdom of the 12th Dynasty,” al Anani told Reuters.

The Dahshur necropolis sits on the west bank of the Nile river.

The Dahshur necropolis sits on the west bank of the Nile river.

Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images

Archeologists started work at the site in August 2018 and finished the dig in April 2019.

Excavations uncovered stone, clay and wooden sarcophagi as well as a collection of wooden funerary masks and tools for cutting stones.

The pyramid is the latest ancient site opened to tourists in Egypt.

Perhaps the most famous are the three pyramids at Giza, while other well-known sites include Saqqara — home to the world’s first true pyramid — and the Temple of Karnak, which is the largest ancient temple in Egypt.

CNN’s Nada Altaher contributed to this report.