Monday, June 28, 2010

Coptic Cairo

With a metro station located right opposite this historic native Christian sanctuary, it’s definitely one of the most accessible locations that I know of in Cairo.

It was a sunny afternoon. Strolling out of the Mar Girgis station, I’d never thought that we’d be late.

At the ticketing booth, an old lady reminded me that the Coptic museum was closing very soon. That much, I understood. And it was very kind of her too, to refuse me a ticket. I was disappointed of course, and was already planning to reshuffle my itinerary just to make it into the compound the following day. As we walked back to the station, I saw a group of, presumably tourists, entering via the south entrance. We followed suit.

And I stepped into Coptic Cairo.

So, it was just the museum that was closing, not the churches.

Facing us was the Hanging Church, perhaps inspired by the Hanging Garden of Babylon. Basically suspended by the watergate below, the tall church was of an intimate size. It was interesting to see art pieces combining Biblical figures and Arabic words - a first for me. There were more tourists than worshipers in the church that afternoon but the atmosphere was still very much tranquil. It was a shame that we missed the Ben Ezra Synagogue after visiting the Hanging Church.

We found ourselves heading north, passing the churches of St. George, St. Sergius and St. Barbara. The Greek Orthodox Cemetery had thoughtfully designed tombstones and was a peaceful and pensive seclusion, one that contradicted perfectly the congested, bustling downtown Cairo.

It’s easy to enjoy a few hours, even a day here in Coptic Cairo. The serenity and sights of a unique heritage and its people are a treat. I was at peace.


J said...

Nice! :)
Hmmmm, ... the outside shape/ general design kinda reminds me of Castel Sant Angelo in Rome tho....

minchow said...

Absolutely breathtaking. I vaguely remember a resolution made last year that I had to get to Cairo in two years' time. I'm one year down. Better get a move on this.

fatboybakes said...

is this the one with the palm tree where mary was supposed to have seeked shelter? or was that in a mosque?

vialentino said...

wow....beautiful cairo pics!

Selba said...

The pictures are so stunning!!! I can't help not to comment though I admit that I haven't read your post yet but definitely I will as soon as I'm "free", very limited time on the internet ;P

Life for Beginners said...

Spectacular, and then, serene. Beautiful, my friend, beautiful.

jason said...

Nice one!

HairyBerry said...

j, oooh, castel sant angelo! i walked there from the vatican city last time. interesting architecture! and totally enjoyed walking on the bridge filled with angels!

minchow, it's worth the move, believe me! just the city itself has plenty to offer. from history to food, there's something for everyone. but a rather chaotic city, i must say. hehe.

fatboybakes, hmmm, i dont think so leh, because it was not written in the travel guide. and i didnt see tourists/worshipers crowding around any palm tree...hehehhehe. but i could be wrong la, of course. :D

vialentino, glad you like the pics! ;D

selba, wow! thanks so much for visiting my blog all the way from the us of a! thanks for the compliment and i hope you are having a funtastic time! and no trouble with the dozens of kids....hehehehe

jason, thanks so much! ;D

CUMI & CIKI said...

is that guy praying of sleeping?!! :P

HairyBerry said...

cumi & ciki, waiseh, you are very observant! i thought he was praying but was later told that he actually fell asleep..hehe