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Humans may have threatened them with deforestation, but we are trying to do better by them now. The internet's newfound love for the quokka is giving them a fighting chance for recovery.

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Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky join the quokka selfie club.Charter_1/Instagram

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Roger Federer at Rottnest Island ahead of the 2018 Hopman Cup, December 28, 2017.Paul Kane/Getty Images

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Samuel West/Flickr

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge feed a quokka during a visit to Taronga Zoo in Sydney. Anthony Devlin/PA Images via Getty Images

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Autumn, a baby quokka, is one of the marsupials on show during the spring baby boom at Taronga Zoo. Mark Nolan/Getty Images

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Olivier CHOUCHANA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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Tennis players Angelique Kerber and Alexander Zverev of Germany take selfies with quokkas during a trip to Rottnest Island, 2019. Will Russell/Getty Images

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Keeper Melissa Retamales cradles Davey the Quokka as he enjoys a sweet potato star at Wild Life Sydney Zoo. James D. Morgan/Getty Images

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Austrailian Quokka Sand

Meet The Australian Quokka: The Smiling Marsupial That Poses For Cute Selfies

If you spend any time on the internet, you may have seen a quokka before — even if the name doesn't sound familiar. They're notorious for their fuzzy squirrel-like appearance, photogenic smiles, and their curiosity. Quokkas do not have much fear for humans, which means getting them to appear alongside you in a cute selfie isn't too hard.

It's not surprising that quokkas are often referred to as the happiest animals in the world. They always look like they're having a great time. Like any animal, they have their own set of problems, but you'd never know it because they always seem to be grinning.

To achieve your own genuine Australian quokka selfie, first you'll have to travel to Rottnest Island, just off the coast of Perth in Western Australia, where most of them live. It's a protected nature reserve, but also has a small population of full-time residents in addition to as many as 15,000 visitors a week[1] that pay a visit to see the adorable mammals.

Next, keep in mind that you're not allowed to handle the quokkas, nor feed them any people food, but luckily they are often curious and comfortable enough to come to you. It should be noted that however domesticated they may appear, Australian quokkas are still wild animals — even if they are used to having humans around, they will still bite or scratch if they feel threatened.

What Are Quokkas?

Amazingly Cute Quokka Smile

rottnestfastferries/InstagramQuokkas are melting hearts across the world.

The adorable quokka — pronounced kah-WAH-kah by Australians — is a cat-sized marsupial, and the only member of the genus Setonix — their full scientific name is Setonix brachyurus — which is a small macropod. Other macropods include kangaroos and wallabies and like these animals, quokkas also carry their young — called joeys — in pouches.

These cuties can live for up to ten years, are herbivores, and are mainly nocturnal. Despite this, you see quite a few photographed out and about during the day. Likely, they want to be where the people are ... probably because people are famous for not listening and giving the quokkas table food.

It may not seem like a big deal, but you really have to refrain from doing this. Some food, especially bread-like substances, can easily stick between quokkas' teeth and eventually cause an infection. The ailment is called "lumpy jaw", and is probably just about as much fun as it sounds for the poor things.

Other foods can cause dehydration or sickness, so if you absolutely can't resist the urge to give them a treat, stick to offering them tender, tasty leaves or grass.

How The Viral Selfie Helped Save This Vulnerable Marsupial

A National Geographic video about the Australian Quokka.

These adorable animals are actually considered "vulnerable to endangerment." This means that they are likely to become officially endangered unless some threatening circumstances improve. Usually, this means that the animal is losing its natural habitat in some way, and, unfortunately, it's no different for the quokka.

Agricultural development and expanded housing on the mainland reduced the dense ground cover quokkas relied on for protection from predators such as foxes, wild dogs, and dingoes. However, on Rottnest Island, their only predator is the snake. By 1992, quokkas on the mainland had been reduced in number by more than 50%. Now, only 7,500 to 15,000 adults exist in the world — most of them on Rottnest Island, where the quokka thrives.

Humans may have threatened them with deforestation, but Australia is trying to do better by them now that the internet's newfound love of quokkas has given them a fighting chance for recovery. An increased interest has garnered greater protections for these cute little animals and Australia is now very firm in its laws regarding quokkas.

It's fine to lightly interact with them (ie: selfies) but highly frowned upon to pet them or pick them up. And yes, unfortunately keeping one as a pet is highly illegal, as is taking them out of the country.

Furthermore, it's really, really illegal to do anything violent and terrible to them. It's disheartening that this has to be said, but no using them as soccer balls or setting them on fire[2]. Yes, apparently there are humans this heartless.

Quokka Babies

A Perth Zoo video about quokka joeys.

Things just don't get much cuter than quokka babies. A female quokka gives birth to a single baby after being pregnant for about a month. After birth, the joey stays in its mother's pouch for another six months and it's pretty common to see little joey's heads sticking out of their mom's pouch as they go about their adorable quokka life.

After six months in the pouch, the joey starts to wean itself off its mothers' milk and learns how to find wild food. Male quokkas will defend their mates when pregnant but don't do any of the child-rearing[3] themselves (surprise, surprise). When a joey reaches about a year old they become independent of their mother. Though they might stay close to the family or a colony, but it will be a solitary adult.

Quokkas are pretty avid breeders. They mature quickly and can have up to two joeys per year. In a 10-year lifespan, they could produce 15 to 17 little ones.

They can also do something pretty unusual: embryonic diapause[4]. This is the delaying of a fertilized egg's implantation in the mother's uterus until conditions are better for raising a joey. It's a natural reproduction strategy that keeps mom from expending energy to raise babies that perhaps wouldn't survive current conditions.

As an example, if a female quokka mates again shortly after giving birth they may hold off on the second joey until they see if the first joey survives. If the first baby is healthy and progressing well, the embryo will disintegrate. But if the first baby dies, the embryo will naturally implant and develop to take its place.

Probably the most shocking thing about such a sweet-looking animal is a new mom's strategy for escaping predators. If she encounters a particularly fast and dangerous one, chances are she will "drop" her joey to distract the predator long enough to escape.

You can guess what happens to the baby from here, but that's the way of nature, even for the happiest animal on Earth.

Next, read all about the incredible desert rain frog[5], the amphibian that broke the internet. Then, travel deep into Australian waters to discover some absolutely amazing marine life[6].


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  2. ^ using them as soccer balls or setting them on fire (
  3. ^ don't do any of the child-rearing (
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Scotland's Fairy Glen, located in the lowlands on the Isle of Skye, is renowned for its magical landscape, basalt rock formations, and mythical lore.

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According to Scottish lore, fairies or "faeries," prefer to be called "Fair Folk" by humans and have little tolerance for slipups.Andy Stephenson/Geograph

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Crystalline waters reflect the gorgeous highlands around the whimsical valley.pellesten/Flickr

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The rock formation on the left is called Ewen Castle for its resemblance to a castle tower.pellesten/Flickr

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Basalt rock formations — likely made by well-meaning tourists. qmzic/PXfuel

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Nessy-Pic/Wikimedia Commons

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Scotland's Fairy Glen shines at sunset. Robert Lukeman/Unsplash

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In the glen one can find a cave where visitors press coins into the rock in the hopes of bringing themselves good luck.@jack_antsey via @atlasobscura/Instagram

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According to photographer Robert Lukeman, the true magic of the whimsical glen becomes obvious at sundown when the tourists have left.Bethany Ciullo/Flickr

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Scottish Green Glen

Explore The Fairy Glen, The Scottish Valley So Magical That Legend Says Fairies Created It

Scotland's Fairy Glen on the isle of Skye sounds like what it is: a magical landscape rich in dramatic rock formations, lush, cone-shaped hills, ponds, and waterfalls. Its whimsy evokes a certain sense of wonder — and its easy to see why Scottish folklore is ripe with stories of fairies.

While there are no stories that specifically link the Fairy Glen to fairies, it is sometimes said that the mythical creatures created the enchanted landscape — and still dwell there. Geologically (and realistically) speaking, Scotland's Fairy Glen was formed by an ancient landslide.

Its supernatural aura nonetheless draws many adventurers who dare to believe otherwise.

Visiting The Fairy Glen

Situated between a couple of small villages named Sheader and Balnacnoc on the Trotternish Penisula, the Fairy Glen nestles inside an area of farmland. There is one road that leads there, but the seclusion of the Glen is just one of its many draws.

Rolling Hills In The Fairy Glen

Legend has it this land was created by fairies and some still dwell there. Science has it that the Fairy Glen was the result of a landslip.

However, it can be difficult to experience the Fairy Glen in solitude as it's one of the most popular attractions on Scotland's Isle of Skye.

"During the day, this place is flooded with people," noted[1] photographer Robert Lukeman. "Around sunset, all the tour buses leave, and suddenly it's completely empty and quiet. The only sounds you can hear are those from the local sheep."

This is when the magic of Fairy Glen truly comes in to focus.

Fairy Lore In Scottish Culture

Scottish folklore, and on the Isle of Skye particularly, is steeped in tales of fairies, or by the old spelling, "faeries."

Most every ancient waterway, well, and lake was believed to be protected by a fairy. Furthermore, if you wanted the fairy to continue protecting the waterway, there were certain rules[2] you had to follow.

Panorama Of The Glen In Fall

FlickrMoss and mushrooms abound in this land of whimsy — and sheep too.

The first rule: never let a fairy overhear you calling them a fairy. They prefer to be called "fair folk" and consider it rude to be called anything else. Upsetting them can bring bad luck — such as causing crops to fail. Something like this can be truly catastrophic, so its best not to mess with fairies as Fair folk are considered to keep the balance between good and evil.

Second: Fairies can spot a liar, so always be honest. They know if you have lied to them and this is another form of disrespect they don't take lightly. Third: Wearing the color green is not a good idea. Fairies believe this color belongs to them.

However, not all fairies are impatient with humans and apparently, some even try to avoid us entirely.

The Fairy Glen's Rock Formations

The clusters of hills here contain ridged mounds and resemble upside-down beehives. Small ponds sprinkled throughout the knolls reflect the natural colors within the glen. These hues are especially vivid in the middle of the day, but take on a whole new beauty when doused in the colors of the sunset.

Among its many draws, the Fairy Glen is also bespeckled with uncanny rock formations. The largest basalt rock formation actually resembles a castle tower and has fittingly been dubbed "Castle Ewan."

If you're limber, you can climb a steep trail that leads to the highest point in the Glen for a fantastic view. You'll see that behind Castle Ewan, there is a tiny cave where people have taken to pressing coins into cracks in the rock to bring themselves good luck.

Drone footage of the Isle of Skye's mystical Fairy Glen.

The smaller rock formations — aside from the larger, more permanent spiral, are actually made by visitors. No, not the otherworldly, flittering kind, but tourists. Recently, people have started moving the smaller rocks to create spirals or other patterns on the ground.

Locals who live near the Fairy Glen repeatedly remove the tourists' attempts at sculpting rock formations of their own in order to keep the glen as nature intended it. They consider moving things around an act of vandalism, so if you visit, be sure you leave things as you found them.

Next, gaze upon more natural splendor and be a virtual tourist to these 21 most surreal landscapes on the planet[3]. Then find out the disturbing truth[4] behind the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel.


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"Medieval" sword found to be 5,000 years old, prehistoric giant armadillo remains unearthed, 15th-century etiquette book for kids brought to light.

Anatolian Sword Uncovered Inside Italian Monastery Found To Be 5,000 Years Old

Experts Posing With Anatolian Sword

Ph. Andrea Avezzù / Ca’ Foscari University of VeniceCa’ Foscari, the PhD student who identified the sword’s age, poses with the weapon alongside fellow researcher Father Serafino Jamourlian.

When experts found an antique sword inside a cabinet of curiosities within an Italian monastery, they thought they’d uncovered a medieval artifact. And while that would have been interesting enough, one observant PhD student found that they’d gotten it all wrong and that the sword was actually 5,000 years old.

Dating back to the Anatolians in present-day Turkey, this sword is likely among the oldest in the world.

Read more here[1].

Argentinian Farmer Finds Family Of 20,000-Year-Old Car-Sized Armadillos Huddled In His Yard

Four Glyptodon Fossils

INCUAPAThe farmer was shocked to find a family of ancient armadillos on his property.

An Argentinian farmer named Juan de Dios Sota was simply transporting his young cattle when he stumbled across something much older — a couple of 20,000-year-old giant armadillos.

Right beneath the farmer’s feet beside the dried riverbed of the Vallimanca stream were the fossilized remains of four gigantic armadillos also known as Glyptodon[2].

Dig deeper in this report[3].

15th-Century Etiquette Book Tells Kids Not To Be Greedy With The Cheese Or Pick Their Nose

Inside The Childrenes Lytil Boke

British LibraryThe manuscript was written in 1480 and aimed to help families refine their children’s social skills.

Nursery rhymes and fables have always aimed to teach children invaluable morals and life lessons, but this newly-unveiled 15th-century manuscript reveals just how similar the fundamental rules of children’s conduct 500 years ago are to today’s.

The British Library has just posted a digitized version of The Lytille Childrenes Lytil Boke online, revealing what was considered ill-behaved in the 15th century.

See more here[4].


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After Adolf Hitler's suicide alongside his brand new bride, Eva Braun, everyone wrote her off as a "dumb blonde." But experts now believe she was a mastermind behind Nazi propaganda.

Photos Of Eva Braun

National ArchivesTwo photos of Eva Braun, likely at Berghof.

In 1935, Eva Braun wrote in her diary[1], “The weather is gorgeous, and I, the mistress of Germany’s and the world’s greatest man, have to sit at home and look at it through the window.”

Braun was a 23-year-old photography assistant with a secret: She was Adolf Hitler’s mistress. Over the next decade, Braun and Hitler had a tumultuous relationship that ultimately ended in their joint suicide.

Hitler likely saw Eva Braun as a reflection on himself. “There are two ways of judging a man’s character,” he apparently told his friend Ernst Hanfstaengl. “By the woman he marries and by the way he dies.” The dictator married Braun and died at her side – but who was Eva Braun?

After World War II, many wrote Braun off as a “dumb blonde” who played only a trivial role in history.

But in many ways, Braun was Hitler’s most loyal follower. “This woman came to me at a time when all others were leaving me,” Hitler told his military assistant[2]. “You can’t believe what this meant to me.”

When Eva Braun Met Adolf Hitler

In 1929, Adolf Hitler walked into the photography studio belonging to Heinrich Hoffman, his personal photographer. Eva Braun, Hoffman’s photo assistant, ran out to buy beer and Bavarian meatloaf for the guest.

When she returned, a 17-year-old Braun spoke her first words[3] to Hitler: “Guten Appetit.” Then she blushed.

Sixteen years later, the two would hide themselves away in a Berlin bunker where they got married — and then commit suicide the day after.

But in 1929, Braun was simply a blonde bombshell who caught the eye of the 40-year-old future Führer.

Eva Braun

National ArchivesA rare photo of a young Eva Braun.

Braun came from a traditional Catholic family. Along with her two sisters, Braun grew up in Munich.

“Eva had pale blonde hair, cut short, blue eyes, and, although she had been educated in a Catholic convent, she had learnt feminine wiles,” Hoffman’s daughter Henriette recalled[4].

Even Hoffman’s husband, Baldur von Schirach, once called Eva “the most beautiful girl in Munich.”

When Eva first met Hitler, she didn’t know the older man with a “funny mustache.” Heinrich Hoffman called Hitler “Herr Wolf,” so Braun certainly didn’t recognize that name from anywhere.

Hoffman later described the scene[5] as such: “She was just an attractive little thing, in whom, in spite of her inconsequential and feather-brained outlook – or perhaps just because of it – he found the type of relaxation and repose he sought.”

Eva Braun In Italy

National ArchivesBraun enjoyed traveling with her family, especially in Italy.

At the time, Hoffman predicted Braun would never amount to more than a fling: “Never, in voice, look, or gesture, did [Hitler] behave in any way that suggested any deeper interest in her.”

Eva Braun Wasn’t Hitler’s Only Mistress

As he rose to power, Hitler surrounded himself with women. “Women by the thousand abased themselves at Hitler’s feet,” explained British author David Pryce-Jones. “They tried to kiss his boots, and some of them succeeded, even to the point of swallowing the gravel on which he had trod.”

The Führer himself had strong feelings about romantic entanglements. “A highly intelligent man should always choose a primitive and stupid woman,” Hitler once declared.

For years, Braun was only one of many women Hitler dated.

But Braun wanted more. According to author Alan Bullock, Eva would ultimately become the mastermind in their relationship: “The initiative was all on Eva’s side: She told her friends that Hitler was in love with her and that she would make him marry her.”

Eva Braun And Adolf Hitler

Deutsches BundesarchivA 1942 photo shows Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler at Berghof with their dog, Blondi.

In 1935, Braun was tormented with the news that Hitler had chosen a new mistress. “He now has a substitute for me,” Braun wrote in her diary. “Her name is WALKURE, and she looks it, including her legs. But these are the shapes that appeal to him.”

Braun knew she couldn’t expect monogamy from Hitler. “I would never stand in his way,” she wrote, “if he would discover another romantic. Why should he worry about what happens to me?”

Still, Braun felt ignored by Hitler during their relationship. After her 23rd birthday, she lamented that he didn’t bring her a gift. “So now I bought myself some jewelry,” Braun wrote. “A necklace, earrings, and a ring to match for fifty marks… I hope he likes it. If not he may buy me something himself.”

Hitler Kept His Relationship With Braun Secret

Hitler was intensely private about his romantic relationships. He apparently destroyed every letter from Eva Braun and all of his other mistresses. He also refused to marry until the day before his death.

Instead, Hitler promoted the myth that he was married to his work, devoting his life to Germany. A family would be a distraction, Hitler concluded.

Photo Of Hitler

National ArchivesA portrait of Hitler from Eva Braun’s photo album.

Even acknowledging a mistress would destroy Hitler’s image. “The existence of a mistress did not fit into the successfully cultivated ‘myth’ of the lonesome, godlike ‘führer’ who sacrificed his personal life for the cause of the German people,” explains German historian Heike B. Görtemaker[6].

“The bad side of marriage is that it creates rights,” Hitler once proclaimed. “In that case it’s far better to have a mistress. The burden is lightened, and everything is placed on the level of a gift.”

As a result, throughout the 1930s, Hitler kept Braun at arm’s length.

On one visit to Braun in February 1935, Hitler apparently suggested he would buy his mistress a house. “I don’t dare think of it,” Braun wrote in her diary. “It would be so wonderful… Dear God, please make it come true within a reasonable period of time.”

Hitler Taking A Nap

Keystone/Getty ImagesAdolf Hitler takes a nap during World War II, while Eva Braun watches over him.

But just weeks later, Braun had grown despondent. “I wish I had never seen him,” she wrote. “I am desperate. I am now going to buy more sleeping tablets, at least then I’ll be half dazed and won’t think about him so much.”

“When he says he loves me, he takes it about as seriously as his promises which he never keeps,” Braun lamented. “Why does he torture me so much instead of just putting an end to the whole thing?”

Eva Braun Attempted Suicide Multiple Times

On May 28, 1935, Eva Braun waited for Hitler to respond to her most recent letter. “If I don’t get an answer by ten tonight,” she wrote, “I’ll take my twenty-five pills and lie down peacefully.”

“Dear God, please make it possible that I speak to him today; tomorrow will be too late,” Braun penned. “I have decided on thirty-five pills so as to make death certain this time.”

It wasn’t the first time Braun attempted suicide. In 1932, she tried to end her life with her father’s pistol.

But Braun’s attempt in 1935 was different. Hitler was in the midst of a political battle that could cost him his chancellorship. Just a few years earlier, it was reported that Hitler’s half-niece and lover Geli Raubal shot herself[7] in his apartment. Another scandal could end Hitler’s career.

Eva Braun In The Sun

National ArchivesBraun standing in the sunlight in a photo from her private album.

Hitler’s secretary Christa Schroeder saw Braun’s suicide attempt as a ploy: “She pursued him cunningly with suicide attempts. And of course she succeeded, because as a politician Hitler couldn’t have survived a second suicide from someone close to him.”

Braun Never Joined The Nazi Party

After the suicide attempt, Braun and Hitler grew closer. She moved into the guest room at one of Hitler’s properties, and during the war she began living at the Berghof Chalet in the Bavarian Alps.

Although she was Hitler’s mistress for over a decade, Braun never joined the Nazi Party. But she supported Hitler’s policies and became one of the most important figures in the dictator’s inner circle.

Braun And Hitler At Berghof

Bettmann/Getty ImagesBraun and Hitler, relaxed with their dogs in 1942.

In the late 1930s and 1940s, Braun began to control access to Hitler. Nazi leaders like Albert Speer and Joseph Goebbels sought Eva Braun out to strengthen their connection to him.

So Braun was more than just a shallow girl. “Within the hierarchy of Hitler’s inner circle, Eva Braun had a strong position,” argues Görtemaker.

How Eva Braun Ignored The War

During World War II, Braun lived at the Berghof Chalet. She spent her time swimming and skiing. While Hitler was off waging war, Braun spent her time reading cheap novels and endlessly grooming herself — sometimes changing her clothes seven times a day.

But Eva Braun also became a central figure in the Nazi propaganda efforts.

Hitler On His Birthday

Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty ImagesDuring the war, Hitler celebrated his 54th birthday at Berghof, alongside Eva Braun.

At Berghof, in the privacy of Hitler’s mountain retreat, Braun played the role of the Führer’s wife without the marriage. To the outside world, her relationship with Hitler remained secret. Photographs of Braun were stamped “Publication Forbidden” to make sure their relationship remained private.

Yet behind the scenes Braun became the Third Reich’s public relations expert. She filmed Hitler at Berghof, portraying the Führer as a caring leader who loved children. She snapped pictures of the dictator and sold them to Heinrich Hoffman, becoming a wealthy woman during these years.

Hitler With Children

Keystone/Getty ImagesBraun and Hitler with two unknown children.

Eva draped herself in diamond jewelry and sat next to Hitler during meals. But still Hitler refused to marry her. Speer described her as an “unhappy woman, who was so deeply attached to Hitler.”

The Day After They Married, Braun And Hitler Committed Suicide

On April 29, 1945, as the Soviets stormed Berlin, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun finally married.

Their wedding took place in an underground bunker with a handful of Nazi loyalists. After the ceremony, the newlyweds toasted with champagne. Then Hitler left their wedding breakfast to write his last will and testament.

Hitler And Braun

Time Life Pictures/Pix Inc./The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty ImagesHitler in double-breasted suit and hat, standing with Eva Braun.

Hitler’s war was ending – and he had lost. To avoid the shame of capture, Hitler resolved to commit suicide. Braun agreed to die with him.

Hitler decided to shoot himself. Braun, always conscious of her image, chose poison. Before offering a cyanide pill to his bride, Hitler fed one to his dog, Blondi, to make sure it would work.

“Give Bavaria my love,” Braun told Traudl Junge, Hitler’s secretary.

On April 30, 1945, the newlyweds dined on spaghetti with tomato sauce. But Braun barely ate. Instead, she changed into “the Führer’s favorite dress, the black one with the roses at the neckline.” Then, the couple locked themselves into a private room.

A shot sounded. Hitler’s bodyguard, Rochus Misch, opened the door to find Hitler dead. “And I saw Eva with her knees drawn up lying next to him on the sofa,” he remembered.

Eva Braun Remains A Mysterious Figure

Braun collected shoes and drank champagne during Germany’s war years. She changed outfits multiple times a day while waiting for Hitler to call. Braun’s cousin described her as “the unhappiest woman I ever met.”

Braun And Hitler

National ArchivesIn 1942, Hitler and Braun escaped the war at Berghof, relaxing with the daughter of one of Braun’s friends.

To Braun, Hitler was Germany’s savior. But she apparently didn’t worry about his methods. Cloistered away at Berghof, Braun played the role of First Lady of the Third Reich, without a second thought for Hitler’s genocidal mania.

Was Braun a villain or a victim? It’s easy to see her as both. Yet her complicit agreement with the Nazi regime and her devotion to Hitler push Braun firmly into the villain category. As Albert Speer memorialized Braun: “Eva’s love for [Hitler], her loyalty, were absolute – as she proved unmistakably at the end.”

Speer also predicted, “Eva Braun will prove a great disappointment to historians.”

For more on Eva Braun’s world, read about the rumor of Hitler’s secret child[8] and then check out photographs of Hitler’s underground bunker[9].


  1. ^ wrote in her diary (
  2. ^ told his military assistant (
  3. ^ spoke her first words (
  4. ^ Henriette recalled (
  5. ^ described the scene (
  6. ^ explains German historian Heike B. Görtemaker (
  7. ^ Geli Raubal shot herself (
  8. ^ Hitler’s secret child (
  9. ^ photographs of Hitler’s underground bunker (

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The Pyramid of Djoser was built more than a century before the woolly mammoth went extinct. And thanks to a recent restoration effort, not only is Egypt's oldest and largest pyramid still standing — it looks better than ever.

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A sarcophagus inside the newly renovated Step Pyramid of Djoser in Egypt's Saqqara necropolis.Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images

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A custodian stands next to a sarcophagus in the Pyramid of Djoser. History's earliest cut stone structure reopened again for tourists after almost 20 years of renovations. Oliver Weiken/picture alliance via Getty Images

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A tourist walks on the stairwell inside the newly renovated pyramid.Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images

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Tourists explore the Pyramid of Djoser after the 4,700-year-old structure's reopening.Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images

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Entrance hall and vestibule of the Pyramid of Djoser circa 1920.Getty Images

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Renovation work started in 2006 but was interrupted in 2011 and 2012 for "security reasons" due to the Arab Spring uprisings.Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images

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In addition to work on the actual structure itself, a new lighting system and disability access entry were installed to accommodate the upcoming stream of tourists.Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images

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Exterior of the Pyramid of Djoser which is also referred to as the Step Pyramid.Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images

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It took almost 20 years to complete restoration on the 4,700-year-old pyramid.Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images

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View of Heb-sed courtyard with the chapels and the step pyramid in the background before the structure was revamped.DeAgostini/Getty Images

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Djoser statue is pictured inside the Step Pyramid. The pharaoh's body is buried in a sarcophagus inside the structure's shaft tomb.Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images

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A tourist snaps a picture of wall inscriptions inside the newly reopened pyramid.Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images

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Construction on the pyramid's exterior in 2014. Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images

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The pyramid is located south of Cairo in the ancient capital of Memphis and was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images

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Restorations on the pyramid were part of a long-term conservation plan by the Egyptian government. It cost $6.6 million to complete the entire restoration.Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images

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Path Inside Pyramid

Inside The Pyramid Of Djoser, Egypt’s Oldest And Largest, Restored To Its Former Glory

Though the Pyramids of Egypt still incite wonder and remain stunningly intact after thousands of years, they didn't stay that way without a healthy dose of restorative work over the decades.

Recently, the oldest of them all and the oldest large-scale cut stone structure to have ever been built by humans, the Pyramid of Djoser, finished a major facelift. During that time, the site was closed off to tourists, but it has now finally reopened.

"We completed the restoration... of the first and oldest pyramid in Egypt, that of King Djoser, the founder of the Old Kingdom," Egyptian Antiquities and Tourism Minister Khaled El-Enany said during the official reopening[1] on March 5. "We are in awe as to how he was able to create this structure, which has remained standing for 4,700 years."

This massive restoration project started all the way back in 2006 and cost about $6.6 million. But now, after all that careful work, the public can once again stand in awe of the Pyramid of Djoser, the oldest in Egypt.

The History Of The Pyramid Of Djoser

Inside The Step Pyramid

Getty ImagesA guide shows an inscription inside a structure within the Saqqara complex.

A majestic limestone structure in the heart of the Pyramid Complex of Saqqara, the Pyramid of Djoser (or Zoser) stands as one of the most renowned archaeological sites in the world. The pyramid was constructed 4,700 years ago during the reign of Pharaoh Djoser, one of the Third Dynasty kings that ruled over ancient Egypt.

Before Pharaoh Djoser took the throne, kings were typically buried in Abydos. But this tradition later changed and the pharaohs were then buried near Memphis, one of the oldest and most important cities in ancient Egypt.

Because preparation for the afterlife had great significance among ancient Egyptians, these royal burials were a grand affair of great importance to the ruler in question. When it came time to choose his final resting place, Pharaoh Djoser settled on Saqqara which was then a large mortuary complex northwest of his capital city Memphis. Thus, the Egyptians built the Pyramid of Djoser — also known as the Step Pyramid — in the king's honor at the heart of the Saqqara necropolis.

A documentary from 2009 highlights the deteriorated conditions of the Pyramid of Djoser before restorations.

Djoser's trusted vizier, Imhotep, oversaw the construction[2] of the king's pyramid during the 27th century B.C. Design plans for the pharaoh's pyramid were massive; Imhotep planned the construction of a 197-foot pyramid featuring a six-stack terrace of steps over the structure's burial shaft tomb which was made 92 feet deep and 23 feet wide.

The Pyramid of Djoser was meant to be the centerpiece of the Saqqara burial complex which was decorated with a myriad of ceremonial structures, halls, and courts. Historians say that Pharaoh Djoser's decision to be buried at Saqqara singlehandedly elevated that site's status immensely.

While Imhotep's role was mainly as the pharaoh's right-hand, his grand vision in building the Pyramid of Djoser cemented his status among historians as one of the ancient world's foremost architects.

Indeed, the Pyramid of Djoser is the first-large scale cut stone structure in history and the largest pyramidal funerary complex ever built. In 1979, Memphis and its Necropolis — the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur which includes the Pyramid of Djoser — was made a World Heritage Site[3] by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

A Decade-Long Restoration Effort

Opening The Pyramid Of Djoser

Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP via Getty ImagesEgyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli and Minister of Antiquities and Tourism Khaled El-Anany (right) hold a press conference in front of Pyramid of Djoser during its reopening.

In 2006, thousands of years after it was first built, the Pyramid of Djoser began undergoing a massive restoration project. The main objective was to rehabilitate the integrity of the pyramid structure which included restoration work to both its exterior and interior to prevent the deteriorating walls from collapsing.

Experts worked meticulously to restore the outdoor pathway leading to the Step Pyramid as well as to the inner corridors that lead to the burial chamber. Restoration work was also performed on Pharaoh Djoser's sarcophagus and the walls inside his burial shaft tomb.

Djoser Pyramid Restoration

Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty ImagesThis photo taken on July 14, 2018 shows a view of the Pyramid of Djoser, or Zoser, when it was still closed for improvements.

In all, the entire project took 14 years to complete, including a few years during which the restoration process had been paused due to the Arab Spring.

In addition to work on the actual structure itself, a new lighting system and disability access entry were installed to accommodate the stream of visitors that the Pyramid of Djoser is now expected to draw.

As Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli said at the reopening ceremony, "We are working hard to build a new Egypt. The restoration of our heritage is at the top of our priorities."

The magnificent Pyramid of Djoser is certainly now a testament to the scale of those efforts.

After this look at the Pyramid of Djoser, discover the most fascinating facts about ancient Egypt[4]. Then, learn some expert theories about how the ancient Egyptians may have built their astonishing pyramids[5].


  1. ^ official reopening (
  2. ^ the construction (
  3. ^ World Heritage Site (
  4. ^ fascinating facts about ancient Egypt (
  5. ^ theories about how the ancient Egyptians may have built their astonishing pyramids (

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