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.