This beautiful Romanesque/Florentine church of Saint Joseph was built by the architect Aristide Leonori in 1909 to serve the growing Roman Catholic community, largely Italians and French, in the Europeanised part of Cairo called Ismailiah. A previous small church existed on the site since the 19th century, when the Khedive Ismail (ruler of Egypt of the time) donated the land for the purpose. With the departure of most of Cairo's European Catholic population post-revolution in the '50s and '60s, the importance of the church has diminished. Yet to this day, service is still conducted in the church in Italian, French and Arabic. (Prior to the revolution, the Italian community was estimated to be around 200,000, and the French around 40,000 in the whole of Egypt).
Originating in France, the Congrégation de la Mère de Dieu was created in the 17th century for the Catholic education of poor orphaned girls. Over time, it developed into a reputable educational establishment in France. In 1879, the Khedive Tawfiq, ruler of Egypt, invited the congregation to create a similar establishment in Egypt for the education of girls. They accepted the invitation and first opened in Alexandria, followed by Cairo. In 1921, the Pensionnat Mère de Dieu moved to a new location, a Gothic style building in Garden City, which continues to educate Cairene girls to this day with French as the primary language of instruction.
I can not remember where the photo was taken, but it was of a Christian School, in Coptic Cairo.
I remember walking around the Coptic area & 3 teenage girls in school uniform came up to us for a chat. None of there were happy about the restrictions of living in a Muslim country even though they were Christian & they hoped one day to move to a Christian country. Teenagers are always not happy about restrictions, but we did feel sympathy for them.
with a 10% christian population, egypt boasts many churches. in coptic cairo there were as many as 20 per sq mile (or something like that the rep spoke baaaaad english) in the area now there are 5 coptic churches worth taking a look at. there is also a synagogue and the oldest mosque (645 ad if i remember correctly, but correct me if wrong)
Saint Virgin Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church, that is the official name of the Hanging Church, so called because of it's location. When you enter the gate, you will notice that the church's entrance is elevated, taking the staircase to get to the church.
The small courtyard right infront of the stairs leading to the church is quaint and the inner walls have some sort of biblical scene or saints made of ceramic tiles. Inside the first entrance (not the gate) to the church is a fountain, reminded me of local houses in Damascus, and the second entrance is the inside of the church itself. There's some kind of a beauty about this church, there are so many interesting items inside the church like icons some of which dates back to 8th century, and many glass-encased personal belongings of saints (or past coptic popes?). The staff around the church are mostly youths (maybe volunteers?) who are very welcoming. The Hanging Church is the official residence and of the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria after the Arab invasion starting in the year 1047.
Located in an area called Coptic Cairo (or christian Cairo), it is easy to visit the church using the public transport - Metro Line 1. And as I was staying near Tahrir Square, I took the Metro from Sadat Station - few steps - and got off the metro on the 4th stop called Mar Girgis station, and the church is right there on your right side once you step out of the metro station.
You can visit this church from 9am to 4pm, not during mass though, unless you're attending the mass.
Entry is Free... but you can leave a donation in any amount if so you desire right before you exit.
5.Visit the Virgin's Tree at Zeitoun. According to a tradition, this is the tree where the Virgin rested with the Child Jesus when they came to Egypt.
7.Visit the Greek Orthodox church of Mari Girgis (St. George). Built on the ruins of an ancient church, it has a unique circular hall dating to the 13th century AD. http://www.touregypt.net/gstgeorge.htm Correction: The adjacent monastery of St George belongs to the Patriarchate of Alexandria, but is not the seat of the Patriarch of Alexandria. His seat is at Alexandria.
This old cairo is an area where you can visit some old churches and old christian settlement thousands of years ago and here is where history witness some wars. Its all about history....
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