The Old Cairo Tour: Exploring the Meeting Point of Three Abrahamic Religions In this captivating article, you will be introduced to the often overlooked historical and religious gem of Old Cairo. Known as Coptic Cairo or Fustat, this ancient part of present-day Cairo holds a rich heritage and is where the three Abrahamic religions- Christianity, Islam, and Judaism- intersect. By taking the Old Cairo Tour, you will have the opportunity to visit iconic landmarks such as the Coptic Museum, the Hanging Church, the Church of Saint Sergius and Bacchus, and more. Whether you’re a history buff or simply interested in exploring the diverse tapestry of religious heritage, the Old Cairo Tour is a must-see experience. So, pack your bags and prepare to embark on a journey that will take you to the meeting point of three great faiths.

Overview of Old Cairo

Introduction to Old Cairo

Welcome to Old Cairo, a hidden gem in the ancient land of Egypt that often gets overlooked by travelers. While most people prioritize visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza and other famous sites, Old Cairo offers a unique historical and religious experience that should not be missed.

Historical and religious significance

Old Cairo holds a rich historical and religious heritage that dates back to the 6th Century BC, making it the oldest part of present-day Cairo. This area is also known as Coptic Cairo, as it is believed to be the place where the holy family sought shelter when they fled to Egypt. By visiting Old Cairo, you will be walking in the footsteps of the famous Holy Family trail.

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The meeting point of three Abrahamic religions

One of the most fascinating aspects of Old Cairo is that it serves as a meeting point for three major Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The religious complex in Old Cairo is home to several churches, a synagogue, and a mosque, making it a truly unique and sacred destination.

Explanation of the names ‘Coptic Cairo’ and ‘Fustat’

Old Cairo is often referred to as Coptic Cairo due to its significance to the Coptic Christian community. The name “Fustat” is derived from the old capital’s original name when it was the first Egyptian capital under Muslim rule.

The Old Cairo Tour: Exploring the Meeting Point of Three Abrahamic Religions

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Monuments and Sites in Old Cairo

The Coptic Museum

The Coptic Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning about the everyday life of the Egyptian Coptic Christian era. With a collection of around 16,000 pieces, including textiles, manuscripts, stonework, and woodwork, the museum provides a comprehensive insight into the rich history of the Coptic community.

The Hanging Church

The Hanging Church, also known as the Saint Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church, is a fascinating site that gets its name from being built on top of the southern tower gate of the Babylon Fortress. The nave of the church is suspended above the passage, giving it the name “hanging.” Inside, you will find 12 pillars representing the 12 disciples and a remarkable pillar with a picture of the Virgin Mary, believed to have appeared miraculously.

The Church of Saint Sergius and Bacchus

Located in Old Cairo, the Church of Saint Sergius and Bacchus, also known as Abu Serga, is an ancient church dating back to the 4th Century. It is believed to be the exact spot where the Holy Family sought refuge during their time in Egypt.

Saint Barbara Church

Saint Barbara Church is dedicated to Saint Barbara, a Christian martyr and the daughter of a wealthy nobleman. According to legend, her father built a tower to protect her from the influence of Christianity, but she converted to Christianity and was eventually tortured and martyred. The church in Old Cairo was built in her honor.

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Saint George Church

The Greek Church of Saint George is a unique round church that is one of the few still standing in the East and the only one in Egypt. Originally built in the 7th century, it was later rebuilt after a fire in 1904. This church holds great significance for the Coptic Orthodox community.

Kasriet El Rihan Church

The Kasriet El Rihan Church, also known as the Church of the Pot of Basil, has an intriguing name that still puzzles historians. It is thought that the name may have originated from the cultivation of basil for the blessing of water in the Greek Orthodox church or symbolize the Virgin Mary.

Ben Ezra Synagogue

The Ben Ezra Synagogue, also known as the Jew Temple, is the oldest Jewish temple in Cairo, dating back to the 9th Century AD. It is believed to have been built on the site where Jeremiah Temple once stood or where baby Moses was found.

Babylon Fortress

Babylon Fortress is a remnant of the Roman occupation in Egypt and was originally built in the 2nd Century AD. Emperor Trajan ordered its construction, while Emperor Arcadius fortified and expanded the fortress in the 4th Century AD. It serves as a testament to the ancient history of the region.

Amr Ibn El A’as Mosque

The Amr Ibn El A’as Mosque is the first mosque ever built in Egypt and the entire African continent. Constructed in 642 AD by the Commander of the Muslim Army, it is a significant religious site for Muslims in Egypt.

The Old Cairo Tour: Exploring the Meeting Point of Three Abrahamic Religions

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How to Get to Old Cairo

Taking the metro

One of the easiest and most convenient ways to get to Old Cairo is by taking the metro. The metro system in Cairo is considered safe and reliable, with clean and air-conditioned cars. You can easily reach Old Cairo by making a stop at Mar Girgis station.

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Using ride-hailing apps

Alternatively, you can use ride-hailing apps like Uber or Careem to reach Old Cairo. Taxis in Cairo can be expensive and often subject to scams, so using these apps provides a safer and more reliable transportation option.

The Old Cairo Tour: Exploring the Meeting Point of Three Abrahamic Religions

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General Tips for the Old Cairo Tour

Arriving early

To make the most of your Old Cairo tour, it is recommended to arrive early in the morning. There is so much to see and explore, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on any of the sites and monuments.

Preparing for the tour with breakfast and water

Since the tour involves a fair amount of walking, it is essential to have a hearty breakfast and carry a water bottle to stay hydrated. Exploring Old Cairo can be physically demanding, and ensuring you have enough energy and hydration is crucial.

Dressing modestly

When visiting religious sites in Old Cairo, it is important to dress modestly out of respect for the sacredness of the places. Avoid wearing shorts or skirts and opt for clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.

Protecting against the sun

Cairo’s weather can be hot, particularly during the summer months. It is advisable to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays while exploring Old Cairo.

The Old Cairo Tour: Exploring the Meeting Point of Three Abrahamic Religions

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In conclusion, Old Cairo offers a captivating experience for travelers interested in exploring the historical and religious significance of Egypt. With its unique position as the meeting point of three Abrahamic religions, Old Cairo provides a remarkable insight into the shared heritage and cultural diversity of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit and experience the Old Cairo tour, as it is truly a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

The Old Cairo Tour: Exploring the Meeting Point of Three Abrahamic Religions

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