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Illegal pyramid photos: Daring art project or crime against Egypt?

Russian photographer Vitaliy Raskalov and his friends illegally climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza. (Credit: CNN/Vitaliy Raskolov)

Russian photographer Vitaliy Raskalov and his friends illegally climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza. (Credit: CNN/Vitaliy Raskolov)

Russian photographer Vitaliy Raskalov and his friends illegally climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza. (Credit: CNN/Vitaliy Raskolov)

Russian photographer Vitaliy Raskalov and his friends illegally climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza. (Credit: CNN/Vitaliy Raskolov)

(CNN) — Was it the ultimate adventure or an audacious act of disrespect that should be punished by law?

An Internet sensation was touched off this week by Russian photographer Vadim Makhorov and a group of his friends — the group ignored regulations prohibiting the public from climbing on the Pyramids at Giza, Egypt, and came away with spectacular photos.

Taken on top of the Pyramids from positions clearly taken to avoid detection by guards, the photos have incited reactions ranging from envy and awe to indignation and concern for the preservation of the ancient wonders.

In an email to CNN, Makhorov now explains his reasons for flouting the regulations, and issues an apology to Egypt and the world.

Vadim Makhorov’s email to CNN

“I’ve always been drawn to Egypt. For as long as I can remember my dream was to get to the top of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

“When my friends and I arrived in Cairo the first thing we decided to do was to go and see the pyramids. We got there in the evening, just in time to witness the laser show.

“No words can express the fascination I felt when seeing my childhood dream come alive. Probably this very feeling made us climb onto the top of the Pyramid and see the panorama of the whole complex, the desert and Cairo itself.

“It was already pitch black and nobody paid us any attention. We started climbing as fast and as soundless as we could. You have to be quite strong and agile to climb onto a meter-high block covered with dust.

“It was exhausting, but the thought that we were going to witness something spectacular pushed us forward.

“It took us around 20 minutes to get to the top. We were taken breathless by the view.

“What we saw from up there was the seventh wonder of the world. We tried to capture the beauty of the scenery in the photos, so that the others could also see this magnificent panorama.

“We, of course, were not the first who dared to climb the pyramid.

“The pyramid’s peak was filled with different inscriptions in many languages, some of them being hundreds years old.

“After enjoying the view for some time we started the descent. It turned out to be harder then climbing up. We were very lucky not to get [caught]. We would have been in serious trouble if we did.

“That’s why I would like to apologize for this ascension. We didn’t want to insult anyone. We were just following the dream.”