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
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.
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
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
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
The Coptic Museum holds examples of woodworks, metal work, stoneworks, textiles and manuscripts. Entrance fee is 60EGP/ 7$. Camera and Mobile are not allowed inside the main museum but you can take pictures at the courtyard. (I love the courtyard!)
St.George Chaplet – Coptic Cairo
St. George is a Roman Soldier with a famous image of holding a spear mounted on what the Arabian horse spearing a dragon. The chapel is dedicated to St. George and was transformed into a church during the 15th century. The large room with seven feet tall double door with carved animal figures is used as a waiting room.
Bacchus and Abu Serguis Church
This is a 5th century church and is dedicated to the two Martyrs – Serguis and Bacchus who died of being beheaded and tortured during medieval times when they were found out to be Christians.
The Cavern Church
According to the local folklore, this is the site where baby Moses was found. The place was once a store room which contains some treasures abandoned by Hebrews which includes manuscripts. The collection was brought to Cambridge in England and was divided to some libraries and museums. This is known as the Ben Ezra Synagogue or El-Geniza Synagogue. It is prohibited to take pictures inside.
The Tomb of El Hawry
The church was closed when I visited. There were some people lighting candles outside
Babylon Fortress was built on the 6th century by Persians as a stronghold against Roman invaders.
The Hanging Church – Coptic Cairo
Known as the Suspended Church or Al-Moallaqa. The name Hanging church name was due to the foundations of palm trees and layers of stones on the Old Roman Fortress to make it stable that seems like hanging on the top of a cliff. The shape is like Noah’s ark built on the 7th to 13th century. Now, it serves as a place where religious ceremonies, government elections takes place. It is prohibited to take pictures inside.
One day or half day is enough to go around the Coptic Cairo. There are restaurants and souvenir shops around, try to bargain. Lunch is cheap around the Coptic Cairo, from 4$ 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.