The Great Sphinx at Giza, created about 2600 B.C., measures approximately 66 feet high and 240 feet long and bears the image of Khafre (Chephren) whose nearby pyramid was built at the same time.
It faced the Nile River and the rising sun. A sun temple once stood in front of this statue to receive offerings to the rising sun. Later the Romans built an altar between its paws. It is said that visitors once sought the advice of the sphinx by placing an ear against its lips.
Legends claim that a tunnel runs from the Sphinx into the Great Pyramid and that other secret passageways and chambers are hidden by it. Recently a few minor tunnels have indeed been discovered around the monument.
Some claim that the Great Sphinx was created as a mirror image of the lion-shaped group of stars above it. If so, it is a symbol of those who discover wisdom through self-contemplation.
About 1400 B.C., a younger son of Pharaoh took a nap in the shadow of the Great Sphinx, which had been mostly buried, in the shifting sands of the desert. While he slept, the Sphinx spoke to the young prince and promised him the throne of Egypt if he promised to clear away the sand, which covered him.
Later, when his elder brother died an untimely death, and Thutmose IV unexpectedly became pharaoh, the new ruler ordered the sands cleared from the statue. He also placed the granite Dream Stela between its paws to commemorate the incident and honor the sun god Harmakhis who had spoken to him through the Sphinx.