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Trip to Egypt – Visit to various places in Cairo such as Saladin’s Citadel and the Khan el Khalili bazaar – Part 2




In the first post of this series (Arrival in Cairo), I wrote about arrival in Cairo, and also about the concept of tips, something that can cause problems to people who have not anticipated the extent to which tips are needed as part of the tourist industry in Egypt.
Carrying on from the last post, we caught up with the relatives who were arriving on another flight, and spent some time catching up with them (especially my 2 nephews who I had seen after many months). After a couple of hours, it was time for dinner, and we spent some time wondering about which place to eat (there were multiple choices of where to eat (inside our hotel – the Oasis Hotel at Giza), so we decided to go to the restaurant located near the pool). The restaurant had some nice food along with a few drinks (but again, there was something that we were not accustomed to – there was a service tax + a city tax + a service charge, together these made up an additional amount more than the charges listed in the menu).
This post is about some of the tourist locations inside the city of Cairo (but not the Pyramids or the Sphinx), which will be covered later. In the morning, we got our tour guide from Sakkara tour services (these are independent guides, not a part of the tour service, who work by the day for them). In our case, we got a young guy, seemingly very friendly and with good English skills. We worked through our schedule for the day, and it covered the Coptic areas of Cairo, followed by a visit to Saladin’s Citadel, and then a visit to the Khan el Khalili market.
So, we set out for the Coptic area of Cairo. Like most tourist locations in Cairo, there is an overt presence of policemen everywhere. Ever since a few attacks at tourist centers and on tourists in the last few years, Egypt has been very careful to ensure that such tourist locations are covered by gun-bearing policemen (also, since the attacks have been mostly inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is against the Egyptian Government, the fight against these terrorists is personal for the Government); the tourist industry brings in a huge amount of revenue for the Government and employees a large number of people.
The Coptic area of Cairo bears a number of monuments, dedicated to both the Coptic Christian community in Egypt, and also monuments for the tiny Jewish community in Cairo. Some of the monuments in this ares are (photos will be extremely limited since most of these monuments did not allow photography inside):

Coptic areas of Cairo - the signs on the wall announcing the various monuments inside the area
Coptic areas of Cairo – the signs on the wall announcing the various monuments inside the area

1) The Hanging Church: Located above a gatehouse of Babylon Fortress, probably the most famous church in Egypt. Built long long ago, rumored to be in the 7th century. The Church has a number of icons inside it.
2) Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church (Abu Serga). This is a Church that is supposed to have been built over a site where the Holy Family stayed during their journey in Egypt, when they were fleeing persecution by the Romans. It is considered extremely holy, however, the exact spot where the stay is supposed to have happened (in a cave below the ground) is blocked by a metal gate, and only open on specific occasions. The church is named after 2 soldiers martyred in the 4th century in Syria.

Coptic areas of Cairo - entry to the St. Sergius Church and the Holy Crypt in it
Coptic areas of Cairo – entry to the St. Sergius Church and the Holy Crypt in it

3) Coptic Museum. This was founded in 1910 to house many old Coptic objects, and now houses many important Coptic items.
4) Ben Ezra Synagogue (also known as the El-Geniza Synagogue). It is supposed to be located on the site where the Moses was found as a baby on the Nile, and adopted by the Pharaoh.
Entry to this area is through a gate, and you need to pass through a small covered corridor to reach the area, with the corridor having many books and paintings on both sides for tourists to purchase.

Coptic areas of Cairo - Security police at a barrier to ensure safety of tourists
Coptic areas of Cairo – Security police at a barrier to ensure safety of tourists

Coptic areas of Cairo - a guest house to the back of the monuments
Coptic areas of Cairo – a guest house to the back of the monuments

Coptic areas of Cairo - entering the complex through a staircase descending down
Coptic areas of Cairo – entering the complex through a staircase descending down

Coptic areas of Cairo - view of the entry to the complex
Coptic areas of Cairo – view of the entry to the complex

Coptic areas of Cairo - narrow corridor with old books and paintings on either side
Coptic areas of Cairo – narrow corridor with old books and paintings on either side

Coptic area in Cairo - a security metal gate before entering a monument
Coptic area in Cairo – a security metal gate before entering a monument

Coptic area of Cairo - inside a Church

Coptic area of Cairo – inside a Church

Coptic area of Cairo - the older sections of the Coptic part
Coptic area of Cairo – the older sections of the Coptic part

Coptic area of Cairo - a beautiful painting in a wooden structure inside a Church
Coptic area of Cairo – a beautiful painting in a wooden structure inside a Church

This post is turning out to be longer than I thought, so will carry on with more locations inside Cairo in the next post.




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