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Coptic Cairo Chruches, Mosques, Orthodox Christians Muslims Egypt History Information
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Coptic Cairo: Witnessing Cairo’s growth and evolution
Peaceful co-existence can’t go unnoticed while strolling down Cairo’s humble, historic alleys or driving up its lavish districts. It is only in this historic city, where Churches and Mosques harmoniously stand side-by-side to narrate harsh tests of time, where religious unity proved to be as solid as the Great Pyramids of Giza. Both religions have -for long- formed the rich layers interweaving, and even overlapping at times to shape Egypt’s identity. Hence, setting the country ahead of its counterparts in the Arab world with a distinct cultural flavor- not sensed nor seen any other place in the world.

Coptic Cairo Chruches, Mosques, Orthodox Christians Muslims Egypt History InformationThe call for prayer echoes Old Cairo’s narrow alleys-locally known as "Masr El Qadima" for Muslims to hurry to the nearby Mosque of "Amr Ibn Al -Aas" while The Hanging Church's bells pleasantly ring on Sunday morning, calling on Christians to attend public service. Both Christians and Muslims walk side by side in the street, exchanging warm greetings and sincere smiles, as they head to pray. A typical scene reinforcing why Egypt is a country rich with its diversity and absolute pluralism, with the Orthodox Christian district of Old Cairo as a dynamic living proof.

Before the arrival of Islam, Egypt was predominately a Christian country with Alexandria as its thriving capital. Hence, magnificent architectural structures were built commemorating Christianity- particularly because Egypt has been of remarkable Christian significance, due to the Holy Family’s visit (in search of shelter from Herod’s “massacre of the innocent”)-. However, the Arab conquest in 641 AD changed the existing capital “Alexandria” to a new, independent capital overlooking the River Nile. The Arabs besieged a fortress in an area, whose present structure dates to the fourth century, known as the Babylon of Egypt. The area was named “ Old Cairo”, setting the future foundation of what we aptly known as Coptic Cairo. Today, Coptic Cairo is the oldest part of the modern city and an awe-inspiring tourist haven. Its fascination lies in the fact that strolling down its narrow alleys is like flipping through the pages of a captivating history book. Visitors will start their walk at the walls of the Roman- Byzantine fortress, through the vault where Virgin Mary and Jesus hid from Roman soldiers, to Coptic Churches and a Jewish synagogue, on to Al- Fustat’s archeological remains, where Islam was brought to Egypt. Wear comfortable shoes, and grab plenty of water to start a memorable journey in an area rich with diversity and hospitability.

Getting there and about:
Coptic Cairo can be best reached by Metro. It is recommended to take the Metro line “ Sadat”, which heads four stops south from Tahrir Square (Midan Al Tahrir) to Mar Girgis. For travelers who would like to try a sedate mode of transportation, River buses are available, departing from the Corniche -just in front the Arab Television Building/Mabna Al Ezaa w al Televezyon-. The buses drop visitors at the landing stage, which is a few minutes walk to Coptic Cairo. For visitors going by car, Coptic Cairo can be easily reached by turning south from Salah Salem Street, and park by the Mosque of Amr Ibn Al- Aas on the left to start the discovery tour. Once visitors arrive, they’ll be struck by both the magnificence of the Hanging Church, and Coptic Museum imposing at the area’s entrance. It is recommended that visitors walk down the stepped entrance to the north, which leads to an alley with a concentration of Churches, cemeteries and the area’s famous synagogue. Geographically, Old Cairo also encloses the southern tip of Roda Island at Manial, enabling visitors to include the Nilometer in their discovery tour.

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