Churches and Mosques in Egypt

On the “must-see” list in Cairo are the numerous incredible houses of worship. I expected mosques and Coptic churches but was surprised to find a Jewish temple in the midst. Old Cairo was definitely an equal opportunity religious center at one point. A little background, the Copts are the native Christians of Egypt and they were the vast majority religion until the mid-10th century. They are now a minority (the largest religious minority constituting about 10% of the population of Egypt) but Copts in Egypt are the largest Christian community in the Middle East. They are constituted by the Coptic Orthodox, Coptic Catholics and Coptic Protestants.
One of these Coptic churches is where Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus hid when they fled Jerusalum to avoid Herod. The gospel of Mathew tells that the Magi came looking for the newborn “King of the Jews.” When Herod the Great heard this, he felt that his throne was threatened by Jesus and called for all infants to be killed (Massacre of the Innocents.) But, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him to take Mary and the baby to Egypt. Anyway, we visited the church where they were purported to have hid out in the basement.
We also visited the Saladin Citadel which contains the Mosque of Mohamed Ali. This mosque is Ottoman inspired in architectural style and was built in memory of Mohamed Ali’s second son. But, its importance is that it represents Mohamed’s efforts to erase the symbols of the Mamluk dynasty that he replaced. He is an Ottoman ruler and when he took over the citadel, he destroyed the Mamluk palaces to make space to build the mosque.
Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the oldest mosque in Egypt surviving in the original form
Mom in her sexy mosque attire
Outside one of the churches in Old Cairo
This is the main chapel in the church where Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus hid. Lousy photo but we werent supposed to take any in there. The wall is all wood and mother of pearl inlay
These buildings were all really high and narrow
Again, forgive the lousy photo quality, it was never clear if photos were allowed or not (they were not in many of the churches) so I tried to be covert. This church has three gorgeous chapels off the the main one that were this glorious blue 
No idea what this piece of art represents, my biblical knowledge only extends so far, but I liked it
Cairo Citadel
The bushes were trimmed as topiaries that said Allah
The lights in here were stunning
This was an incredible ceiling in one of the churches
View of Cairo from the Citadel
Terrible photo as the light was too low but I liked the Citadel lit up in the background. I took this sitting in the Al-Azhar Gardens. It is particularly memorable due to the fact that I was sitting outdoors, in street clothes (no abaya,) with music playing and couples were walking about holding hands. Also, wine was available! None of these things had been a part of my world for the five months prior.
Citadel at night. The air quality was really this bad for most of our time in Cairo, this isn’t an unclear photo
Cairo Tower. The pictures of the Nile at night from my last post were taken from the observation deck on the top of this tower.
 
Hanging Church
Inside the courtyard for the Hanging Church
This was taken from the steps of the Hanging or Suspended Church. It was built in the Southern gate of a Roman fortress and has a wooden roof in the shape of Noah’s Ark
Inside the Mohamed Ali Mosque
The grounds of the Citadel
Cairo from the Citadel. This city has so many people it is unbelievable

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