Note: This question was posted by a user on the question-and-answer website Quora. The answer below was provided by Egypt Travel Blog there and is re-posted here for our readers’ benefit as well.
So the Pyramid of Khufu at Giza (also known as THE Great Pyramid) was initially built to a height of 280 royal cubits (an ancient Egyptian measurement), which equates today to slightly less than 481 feet or 147 meters tall.
The Great Pyramid of Khufu was and remained the tallest man-made structure on earth until only about 700 years ago, meaning it reigned supreme as the world’s tallest man-made structure for roughly 3800 years after it was built.
The original structure was encased polished white limestone which is now long-gone (fallen off, stolen, carted away for other building projects, etc.), so without its original outer casing the Great Pyramid of Khufu currently stands at a slightly lower height of 455 feet, which is just under 137 meters.
What’s really interesting about the height of the two largest pyramids at Giza if you’re there looking at them in person is that from several angles that second-tallest one, the Pyramid of Khafre, actually looks taller. But that’s only because Kafre built his pyramid on slightly higher ground so that he could upstage his dad a little visually without actually doing so measurement-wise.
So if you ever see a view of the Pyramids of Giza where the middle one – Khafre’s – looks bigger, know that you’re seeing the sneaky little trick that Khafre pulled on his old man. But Khufu’s is still bigger, which is why it’s known as the Great Pyramid.