A German 18-year-old risked three years in an Egyptian prison to scale to the top of the Great Pyramid of Giza, bringing a video camera with him to take in the view.
“On balance I thought the photos would be worth it,” Andrej Ciesielski said of his decision to climb to the top, in broad daylight and plain view of the tourists taking in the sights on January 18. “I can’t describe it in words… It was really unbelievable for me. It was absolutely amazing,” he said. In multiple interviews, Ciesielski noted that the ascent was not difficult, as he began climbing rapidly to avoid being stopped, and was not seen until he was too high up. Police waited for him on the way down.
It took Ciesielski eight minutes to get to the summit of the pyramid, from where he recorded a first-person video account:
Ciesielski later posted a number of images on his personal blog taken on the climb and descent.
The Telegraph notes that Ciesielski was taken into custody, though officials decided against arresting and charging him for trespassing. He says authorities released him on the condition that he delete all his files in front of them but, “unbeknownst to police, Ciesielski had software that allowed him to recover the deleted images.” He posted the images upon returning home.
Ciesielski appears to be an amateur jet-setter and enjoy heights. He documents his trip to Dubai, UAE, in July, which he described as “disappointing” and “boring.” “I was disappointed in Dubai everything I could find were empty streets except the main highway, a city in the desert. On the ground it is quite boring but on a rooftop the situation changes,” he says, posting images from atop a number of the city’s tallest buildings.
The Egyptian government has struggled to combat a number of security threats against the Pyramids at Giza in recent memory, the only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World. In March 2015, authorities began an investigation into a pornographic video released online that appeared to be filmed near the Pyramids and Great Sphinx in broad daylight. No one has been arrested in connection with the Russian-language video.
More destructive elements have also appeared interested in the Pyramids. In July 2015, the “caliph” of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed that it was the “religious duty” of Muslims to destroy the Pyramids, as they are anti-Islamic symbols of pagan worship. The Islamic State has destroyed numerous ancient sites of enormous value that have come under their control, including several structures in the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria, and countless early Christian places of worship.
Egyptian officials have also dealt with widespread theft of artifacts that fetch high prices on the black market. Two curators at the United Nations-backed National Museum for Egyptian Civilization in Cairo were arrested in June for stealing museum pieces and replacing them with replicas, reportedly to sell the authentic pieces to private collectors.
Despite the threats, the Pyramids at Giza remain a popular tourist site and an international icon. In October, internationally-renowned musician Yanni performed a concert at the foot of the Pyramids.