CAIRO — Old Cairo

This area stretches from south of Garden City to the quarter known as Coptic Cairo. It is a very traditional area and you need to dress appropriately. Both male and female visitors will not be allowed in the churches or mosques wearing shorts or with bare shoulders. You can get to this area by taxi or by the metro from Midan Tahrir to Mar Girgis station. You will find this area much quieter than the rest of Cairo and it is a pleasant place to spend a few hours.

The main sights to see here are:
Roman Towers
Coptic Museum
Hanging Church
Monastery&Church of St George
Convent of St George
Churches of St Sergius&St Barbara
Ben Ezra Synagogue
Mosque of Amr Ibn Al-As

Roman Towers
The main entrance to the Coptic area is through the remains of the two round towers of the western gate to this part of the city. They were built in AD 98 by the Roman Emperor Trajan and were part of the river fortifications as in those days the Nile would have flowed right up to here.

Coptic Museum
You can only visit the new wing of this museum which houses textiles, frescoes, stonework, woodwork, manuscripts, glass and ceramics. It is an important building for Egyptian art because it shows the link between art in the Pharoh’s time, the Graeco-Roman periods and Islamic art.
To find out more about this museum visit the website at http://www.copticmuseum.gov.eg/english/default.htm

Hanging Church

Hanging Church
This Coptic Orthodox church is the oldest church in Old Cairo and dates from the end of the 3rd century. It has been rebuilt several times and is thought to be originally a Roman Temple.

Traveller's Tip

The Hanging Church is shaped like a basilica with a wooden roof in the shape of Noah’s Ark. It is well worth visiting.
St George Church

Monastery&Church of St George
You can only visit the church as the monastery is closed to visitors. The stained glass windows are worth seeing.

Convent of St George
You cannot visit the convent but you can visit the main hall and the chapel. Inside the chapel is a high wooden door which is beautiful. There is a ritual of being blessed by being wrapped in chains by the nuns here.

Churches of St Sergius&St Barbara
The Church of St Sergius is the oldest church in the walls and is said to be built over the palace that the Holy Family fled to after being persecuted by King Herod. There is a special mass on June 1 every year to commemorate this. The Church of St Barbara is dedicated to Saint Barbara who was killed for her beliefs.

Ben Ezra Synagogue
This is the oldest synagogue in Egypt, dating from the 9th century. It is believed that the nearby spring is where Moses was found in the reeds and where Mary drew water to wash Jesus.

Mosque of Amr Ibn Al-As
This Mosque was the first to be built in Egypt but little remains of the original structure and it has been extensively rebuilt over time. Amr Mosque was not only a place of worship but served as a court for settling religious and civil disputes. The inside is very plain and there is little of interest.