Our postcard-worthy trip is coming to an end. But we managed to squeeze in a few more spectacular sites today.
- The Cave Church (which requires a short drive through what’s known as Garbage City)
- The Egyptian Museum
- The Nile River (We enjoyed a ride in a Felucca – a traditional wooden sailing boat)
- The Hanging Church
The accompanying video tells much of the story, but here are some additional details you may find interesting.
The Cave Church
The massive cave church of Cairo’s Zabbaleen community is one of the largest churches in the Middle East.
Approximately 70,000 people attend services there each week. And the church is literally carved out of the rock. It’s truly awe-inspiring.
The area we drove through to reach the church, Garbage City, is a slum area that is home to over 20,000 of Egypt’s poorest inhabitants, mostly Coptic Christians. They are working to create an economy out of the things that other people throw away. Each day, 15,000 tons of waste is collected from streets and households using donkey carts and pick up trucks. The garbage is then sorted, sold to middlemen or recycled.
The living situation for the Zabbaleen is poor, especially since they live amongst the trash that they sort in their village and alongside the pigs that consume the organic waste. The visual contrast traveling through the dirty city to the beautifully carved church is remarkable.
The Hanging Church is actually called Saint Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church. But the nickname comes from the fact that it was built atop the walls of the 4th century BC Roman fortress of Babylon, the remains of which are still visible about Coptic Cairo. It is one the most famous sites in Coptic Cairo and one of the oldest churches in Egypt. (The history of a church on this site dates back to the third century).
A short trip to Israel’s southern neighbour has given us the chance to see a unique side of the Middle East, very different from Israel and Jordan. From the climb up Mt Sinai, and the Pyramids of Giza to Garbage City and the Cave Church (and let’s not forget the “rules of the road are optional” experiences), Egypt is rife with once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
It’s nearly time to say goodbye, but we have ONE more stop…in Frankfurt.
Until next time, Shalom.