Thursday, 3 June 2010

Icon #55 The Pyramids at Giza

The most iconic building ever.
I have never been to see the Pyramids at Giza but they are on my list of things to see before I breathe my last.  Plenty of other, glorious and beautiful structures, came up today and I had a hard time choosing.  I had something in my own mind, that I consider the most awe inspiring, but it didn't get suggested, so it doesn't get written about.  Maybe another time, another topic.

Of the excellent suggestions that did come up, the Pyramids, for me, were clearly the most iconic.  Everyone knows them.

They are a wonder in the true sense of the word.  Indeed they are the last surviving of the original Seven Wonders of the World.  They are around 5000 years old.  Think about that a sec.  5000 years.  That's mental.  Firstly that structures so huge and magnificent were build so very long ago and secondly that we have somehow not ruined them.

They are mysterious and beautiful.  We don't really know how they were built, although there's been plenty of speculation.  Khfu's Pyramid, the largest of the collection at Giza has a near perfect square as a base.  Again, the engineering is amazing, it would be amazing today, that it was achieved so many centuries ago is mind boggling.

They are of course tombs for long dead Pharaohs.  Huge monoliths to preserve part of a dead king as his soul journeys to the afterlife.  Imagine a country today building something that massive to mark the passing of a leader.  Wouldn't happen.  Fact.  Religion has, over the centuries provided the planet with some of its most iconic structures, despite, for me the fragility of every religious argument the one thing that it has provided us with is some beautiful buildings.  The Pyramids are the remnants of a long dead faith but people still look at them and construct myths around them.  That they are a sign of contact with aliens and other such gubbins.  But that's just about the questions that surround them, the disbelief that a civilisation that long ago could possibly have been capable of building something so huge.

It wasn't until the middle of the last century that we built anything taller.  Maybe we didn't feel the need to.  Maybe the Pyramids weren't as globally well known and we hadn't got into the Guinness Book of World Records culture that seemed so important when I was a kid (thanks Roy Castle), but they stood there, in Egypt as a sign of what we could do.  And I think they still do.  

That's their power as buildings for me.  That thousands of years ago Pharaohs wanted massive structures built for them to rest in after their deaths and that their people did it despite the huge odds stacked against them.  Talk about a 'can do' attitude.

I'm fairly certain that some of you will debate whether they are indeed buildings in the traditional sense.  They may not be by some definitions.  But they were built by people, designed by people and they stand as a testament to what humans can do when they put their minds to something bigger than themselves.

No end of post quote this week because despite their brilliance the Pyramids can't speak...  

Tonight's post is dedicated to (from twitter) @nicktheguitar, @jaxsensei, @KyeLani, @AaronofAwesome, @domcoke and (from facebook) Tobs.

And finally, just because I can, here's the most iconic building to ever feature on twitter.

@Toestubbers Golf Academy
for @davielegend and @debsa.