Africa, Cairo

THE CHURCHES AND ANCIENT SITES IN THE HEART OF OLD CAIRO

Coptic Cairo is one of the most historic and beautiful places in the heart of Old Cairo.

Coptic Cairo includes the Babylonian Fortress, Coptic Museum, Hanging Church, Greek Church St. George and many other Coptic churches and historic sites. It is believed in the Christian tradition that the Holy Family stopped and lived in this area. Coptic Cairo was a stronghold for Christianity in Egypt until the Islamic era, although most of the Cairo Coptic buildings were built after the Muslim conquest of Egypt in the 7th century.

During the 6th century BC, the Persians built a fortress called Babylon on the Nile. They also built a canal connecting the Nile to the Red Sea.

The narrow alleys and old buildings in Old Cairo still have the ambiance of an ancient city.

 

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Entrance to the Abu Serga Church.

 

 

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The Church of St. George is a Greek Orthodox church within Babylon Fortress.

 

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Babylon Fortress.

 

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St. John’s Church Sergius and Bacchus (Abu Serga)

It believed in the Christian tradition that the Holy Family lived in St. Sergius and Bacchus. They may be lived in the basement while Joseph worked. The Church came to be known as the Church of Abu Serga.

This church is dedicated to Sergius and Bacchus, soldiers and martyrs in the 4th century in Syria at the reign of the Roman Emperor Maximian. Built in the 4th century and probably completed in the 5th century. Later this church burned and rebuilt, as it has been continuously since the Middle Ages. The church is regarded as an early Coptic church model.

The most interesting part is the basement where Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus said to be resting. Unfortunately, the basement is 10 meters from the surface of the Nile. So when the level of the Nile is high, it often floods.

 

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The Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary

It is also known as Hanging Church (El Muallaqa). Named The Hanging Church because the church ‘suspended’ above the gatehouse of the ancient Roman fortress. One of the oldest churches in Egypt and the most famous Coptic Christian church in Cairo.

The entrance through a beautifully decorated gate leads to an open courtyard flanked by a mosaic. At the top of the stairs, there are three wooden doors decorated with geometric patterns and framed by decorative carvings of stone walls.

 

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Mosaic outside The Hanging Church.

 

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Mass in progress.

 

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St. Simon the Tanner Monastery

It’s on the east bank of the Nile behind the village of Zabbaleen. The village of Zabbaleen where the scavengers in Cairo live. It is not easy to reach this church because the smell of garbage is very strong. But once in the church location the atmosphere is much changed.

St. Simeon the Tanner amphitheater can accommodate 20,000 people. Carved in a cave behind Muqattam Hill. It was built in 1970 in a cave that is considered to be a home for Christian hermits.

 

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The garbage-scavenging Zabbaleen established the largest Christian church in the Middle East at the Monastery of St. Simon.

 

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The Church of St Simon the Tanner, is carved into a cave on a ridge of Muqattam Hill.

 

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The most beautiful characteristic of the church is the stories carved into the mountain rocks.

 

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