Featured photo: Shangyun Shen, pondering in the grandiosity of the Monastery of Simon the Tanner.
Cairo is blessed with many important and beautiful sites. The garden of Mattariya attracted a large number of European pilgrims in medieval times. The churches in and near Old Cairo are true jewels and no church is as well situated on the Nile as the historical church of the Holy Virgin in Maadi.
In Old Cairo, in the Roman fortress of Babylon, we find the Coptic Museum with its ancient Coptic sculptures, remains from excavations, including the monastery of Jeremiah at Sakkara and Bawid near Assiut, manuscripts, ancient icons, crosses, and mosaics. The Greek Orthodox Church of St. George is built on one of the towers of the Roman fortress. In the nearby church is a crypt with a well where they believe the Holy Family stayed.
We next visit the Convent of St. George and see the remarkably, ornamented, seven meter high door. Continuing on with our visit, we set out to see the crypt under the Church of Abu Serga (Saint Sergius), where the Holy Family, according to tradition, rested during their visit to the area of Old Cairo, for the Orthodox Copts – the most important location in Old Cairo. Near Abu Serga we find the ancient Church of St. Barbara and the Church of the Holy Virgin known as Qasriyat al-Rihan. To complete our trip we visit the Church of the Holy Virgin known as the Hanging Church in Old Cairo as it is founded on two towers of the Fortress of Babylon. The church was the Coptic Patriarchal residence from 1092 to 1300. In the church you will see a beautiful collection of restored ancient icons and intricate inlays of ivory and ebony on its old altar screen.
Finally we proceed to the Fortress of Babylon upon which the Hanging church was founded. Amr Ibn al-As conquered Egypt in A.D. 641 after taking this fortress. The ruins of the fortress have been restored around the millennium. We are now able to view an ancient oven and wheat mill that had been covered with ground water but now restored. Near the churches of Old Cairo is the mosque of Amr Ibn al-As, Egypt’s oldest mosque, and the synagogue of Ben Ezra that was once a church