We begin our journey into Old Cairo just opposite of Rhoda Island and below it's southern tip. The area is known to the Egyptians as Masr al-Qadima and stretches down to the sub-area often called Coptic Cairo. Again, appropriate dress covering the body including shoulders and legs is required for entering both Coptic and Islamic monuments.
Coptic Cairo, where the most of the Ancient Christian Churches in Cairo,also known as Old Cairo which is the historic link between Egypt’s Pharaonic and Islamic civilizations. Old Cairo is also known as the district of the seven churches, which are Church of St Sergius, the Hanging Church, The Church of St Barbara, The monastery of St George , The Greek Orthodox Church of St George,The Church of St George and the Church of the Virgin
Old Cairo is so named because it is the oldest part of Cairo, and in fact, predates what is now Cairo. Some Egyptologists believe that there was a settlement here as far back as the 6th century BC. Later, the Romans built a fortress here which we call Babylon. Some of these Roman walls still exist. Later, it became a Christian stronghold, with as many as 20 churches built within an area of one square mile. There are only five remaining, but these are certainly a must see when visiting Cairo, along with the earliest Mosque ever built in Egypt. In addition, after the fall of Jerusalem in about 70 AD, the area also saw an influx of that religion into the area, where the oldest synagogue is also located.
Most of Pharaonic Egypt is a relic of one of the Worlds first and grandest religions, including the great Pyramids outside Cairo. Yet if the modern world can be said to have four major religions consisting of Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, then three of those are represented by some of their most ancient relics in this section of Old Cairo.
Old Cairo known as Coptic Cairo. This main entrance is through perhaps one of the two oldest structures in Cairo, the rounded towers of the western gate of the Roman fortress of Babylon built in 98 AD by Emperor Trajan. The Southern gate is the other oldest structure.
Known in Arabic as al-Muallaqah ("The Suspended"), the Hanging Church is the most famous Coptic church in Cairo. The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is thus also known as Sitt Mariam or St. Mary's Church.
The Hanging Church is named for its location above a gatehouse of the Roman fortress in Old Cairo; its nave is suspended over a passage. The church is approached by 29 steps; early travelers to Cairo dubbed it "the Staircase Church."
The Hanging Church was built in the 7th century, probably on the site of a 3rd or 4th century church for the soldiers of the bastion. It has been rebuilt several times since then, including a major rebuild under Patriarch Abraham in the 10th century.
By the 11th century, the Hanging Church became the official residence of the Coptic patriarchs of Alexandria and several Coptic synods were held in the church. The main furnishings - the pulpit and screens - date from the 13th century. St. George ChurchThe Church of St. George
In Coptic Cairo is the principal Greek Orthodox church of Egypt. It is built atop an old Roman tower and adjoins the Monastery of St. George.
The Church of St. George was built in the 10th century, but a fire destroyed the original structure. The present church dates only from 1904.
St. George is the only round church in Egypt, only for practical reasons - it is built atop the foundations of a Roman round tower.
THE CHURCH OF SAINTS SERGIUS
The Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (Abu Serga) is a 4th century church and today is considered to be the oldest of Cairo's Christian churches. It is dedicated to two early martyrs and traditionally believed to have been built on the spot where the Holy Family, Joseph, Mary and the infant Christ, rested at the end of their journey into Egypt. They may have lived here while Joseph worked at the fortress.
The church is dedicated to Sergius and Bacchus, who were soldier-saints that were martyred during the 4th century in Syria by the Roman Emperor, Maximilan. The building was probably constructed during the 5th century. It was burned during the fire of Fustat during the reign of Marwan II around 750. It was then restored during the 8th century, and has been rebuilt and restored constantly since medieval times.