Cairo - Old Cairo
Old Cairo is the home of Cairo's Coptic Christian community. The Coptic Orthodox Church traces its founding to Saint Mark the Apostle in 42 AD, and is thus arguably the world's oldest Christian denomination. While the majority of Egyptians converted to Islam in the 12th century, the Church has survived through centuries of persecution, not only from hostile Muslim rulers such as the Fatimids, but also at the hands of the Crusaders, who viewed the Coptics as heretics. Today, Egypt has some 12 million Copts, but the narrow alleyways of Old Cairo still have the feel of an island set apart from the rest of the city.
Visitors are welcome to visit Coptic churches, even during services, which are now mostly held in Arabic. Note that Copts use the Julian calendar, so December falls on January 7th and Easter is celebrated 12 days behind the Gregorian dates.
The Metro train is by far the easiest mode of travel into this district. Mar Girgis station is located immediately outside the Coptic Cairo quarter. From Midan Tahrir in central Cairo, take the Metro south to Mar Girgis - the fare costs 1 LE and trains run every few minutes.
- Ben Ezra Synagogue. Egypt's oldest surviving synagogue, dating to the 9th century and housed in a former church constructed in the 4th century.
- Church and Monastery of St George, Mar Girgis St.. The Church is open to the public daily from 9AM - 5PM, however the monastery is closed..
- Churches of St. Sergius (Abu Serga) and St. Barbara, Near Mari Girgis St.. Open from 9AM - 4:30PM.. St. Sergius is one of the oldest churches in Cairo, built in the 4th century it has been built, destroyed and renovated many times over.
- Convent of St George, Mar Girgis St..
- Coptic Museum, Sharia Mar Girgis, ☎ 02 2363 9742, . Open daily 9AM - 5PM. Established in 1908 and recently restored to a high standard, the Coptic Museum houses Coptic art and artifacts from Late Antiquity, from the late Roman empire through to the Islamic era and beyond. The presentation is clear in English, French and Arabic with generally well thought out lighting. The display of mainly stone architectural fragments on the ground floor shows the development of the early fusion between Christian and Egyptian symbolism. They also demonstrate that the early Christian era was much cruder in its use of stone than its Pharaonic ancestors. Several frescoes from the early monasteries are displayed. The tapestries and embroideries on the second floor illustrate more homely but highly developed arts. The building itself is a treat, with elaborate wooden screens called mashrabiyya on the windows and ornately carved wooden arabesque ceilings.admission LE 40 (students LE 20).
- Hanging Church, Sharia Mar Girgis. In Arabic, Kineeset al-Muallaqa.admission free.
- Roman Fortress Towers of Babylon.
- Nilometer South end of Rhoda Island (Sharia el-Malek as-Salah). Dating back to 861, the Nilometer is a large stone obelisk that was used to measure the level of the Nile was measured and therefore the tax rates for the farmers fixed. The Nilometer became obsolete when the Aswan Dam was built.
- S.S. Nile Peking(Dinner cruise), Corniche el-Nil(near the El Malek El Saleh Bridge, opposite Ministerly Palace), ☎ 25199726. Cruises at 8 - 10.30 PM on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 3 - 5:30 PM Friday; also open when not cruising for dining along the riverside.. It's said that this is the boat from Agatha Christie's famous novel "Death on the Nile". The boat features a dining room, where set menus are served, the Shanghai Pub, and a deck from which to watch the Nile.
- Khan El Khalili Bazaar. Khan El Khalili is exactly what you picture in your mine when dreaming of Egypt shopping. Crowded, crazy, thick bargain hunters and tourist. This is a good place to get brightly colored clothes, clothing and jewelry as well as spices and perfumes.
- El-Fishawi, inside the Khan El Khalili Bazar. 24 hours a day. No Kidding this place has been open for 200 years! Located inside the Khan El Khalili Bazar this coffee shop is a great place to people watch.
- Hotel El Hussein, Hussein Square Khan Al-Khalili. Nothing fancy about this place and some times it isn't even clean but the location is everything. So close to the Khan Al-Khalili Bazaar.Budget.
This page was last edited at 17:33, on 9 December 2008 by Wikitravel user Aude. Based on work by Neil Dunlop and Jani Patokallio, Wikitravel user(s) Trew, Cacahuate, Unger and Pjamescowie and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.