Visiting Old Cairo

Coptic Cairo is a part of Old Cairo which used to be the place where Christian Egyptians built their community before the Islamic Era on the 18th and early 19th century. The area is like a puzzle. You need to go out and go underground which will lead you to the churches on the other side. It’s like travelling back in time.

These are few of the Churches/sites to see:

  • St. George Church
  • Coptic Cemetery Cairo
  • Unknown Chapel in Coptic Cemetery – Coptic Cairo
  • The Coptic Museum
  • Chaplet of St. George
  • Bacchus and Abu Serguis Church
  • Cavern Church
  • Jewish Synagogue
  • The Tomb of El Hawry
  • Babylon Fortress
  • The Hanging Church

Church of St. George – Coptic Cairo

St. George
Church of St. George – Coptic Cairo
St. George Church Cairo
Church of St. George – Coptic Cairo
Inside St. George
Church of St. George – Coptic Cairo

This is actually a Greek Orthodox church and not Coptic. The original church was destroyed by fire on the 10th century and the present structure was built on on he 19th century. This is the only round church in Egypt at that time. Every April 23- is one of the largest Coptic festivals in Cairo. You can see this from the Mar Girgis metro station.

Coptic Cairo
Courtyard in Coptic Cairo

Before going to the cemetery there is a courtyard or somewhat a garden on ancient times with palm trees around it. Must be beautiful during those times.

Coptic Cemetery- Coptic Cairo

Coptic Cemetery2
Coptic Cemetery- Coptic Cairo
Coptic Cemetery
Coptic Cemetery- Coptic Cairo

The gravestones are remarkably ornate with Angels, Cherubs and Saints statues.  Some are simple Gothic crosses. Some doors are made of iron metal or solid wood with decorative nails and others are simply French doors.

Unknown Chapel in Coptic Cemetery – Coptic Cairo

COPTIC churches (2)
Unknown Chapel in Coptic Cemetery – Coptic Cairo
COPTIC churches (1)
Unknown Chapel in Coptic Cemetery – Coptic Cairo

This unknown chapel is located after the Coptic cemetery. Inscriptions are all written in Greek alphabet. and very well adorn in all gold plated antique items.

The Coptic Museum – Coptic Cairo

Coptic Museum (3)
Courtyard at Coptic Museum – Coptic Cairo

 

Coptic Museum (2)
The Coptic Museum – Coptic Cairo

The Coptic Museum holds examples of woodworks, metal work, stoneworks, textiles and manuscripts. Entrance fee is 60EGP/ 7$. Camera and Mobile are not allowed inside the main museum but you can take pictures at the courtyard. (I love the courtyard!)

St.George Chaplet – Coptic Cairo

Chaplet of St. George
St.George Chaplet – Coptic Cairo

St. George is a Roman Soldier with a famous image of holding a spear mounted on what the Arabian horse spearing a dragon. The chapel is dedicated to St. George and was transformed into a church during the 15th century. The large room with seven feet tall double door with carved animal figures is used as a waiting room.

st_george_and_unknown_chapel
St. George Church and the Unknown Chapel

Bacchus and Abu Serguis Church

Abu Serga
Bacchus and Abu Serguis Church

This is a 5th century church and is dedicated to the two Martyrs – Serguis and Bacchus who died of being beheaded and tortured during medieval times when they were found out to be Christians.

The Cavern Church

Cavern Church
Cavern church same with Bacchus and Abu Serguis Church

Jewish Synagogue

Jewish Community
Ben Ezra Synagogue

According to the local folklore, this is the site where baby Moses was found. The place was once a store room which contains some treasures abandoned by Hebrews which includes manuscripts. The collection was brought to Cambridge in England and was divided to some libraries and museums. This is known as the Ben Ezra Synagogue or El-Geniza Synagogue. It is prohibited to take pictures inside.

The Tomb of El Hawry

El Gawhary Tomb

The church was closed when I visited. There were some people lighting candles outside

cemetery-_museum_coptic
Coptic Museum and Cemetery

Babylon Fortress

Babylon Fortress (1)
Babylon Fortress
Babylon Fortress (2)
Babylon Fortress

Babylon Fortress was built on the 6th century by Persians as a stronghold against Roman invaders.

The Hanging Church – Coptic Cairo

Hanging church (2)
The Hanging Church – Coptic Cairo
Hanging church (1)
The Hanging Church – Coptic Cairo

Known as the Suspended Church or Al-Moallaqa. The name Hanging church name was due to the foundations of palm trees and layers of stones on the Old Roman Fortress to make it stable  that seems like hanging on the top of a cliff. The shape is like Noah’s ark built on the 7th to 13th century. Now, it serves as a place where religious ceremonies, government elections takes place. It is prohibited to take pictures inside.

churches_in_old_cairo
Bacchus and Abu Serguis Church and the Hanging Church

One day or half day is enough to go around the Coptic Cairo. There are restaurants and souvenir shops around, try to bargain. Lunch is cheap around the Coptic Cairo, from 4$ to 8$, you will get a set lunch menu.

 

HOW TO VISIT COPTIC CAIRO ON YOUR OWN?

Visiting the Old Cairo:

If you are staying in downtown Cairo, take the nearest metro and be sure to go to the Red Line (New El-Marg – Helwan Route). Go down to Mar Girgis metro station and as soon as you come out you are already there. The train cost is 1.00 Egyptian Pound (EGP)/ one way from Downtown Cairo. There is a separate train cabins for women and men so no need to worry.

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