Saturday 1 September 2018
What a packed day! It got up to about 37 degrees, but it was a dry heat. We started early and went to the Citadel – Saladin’s 12th century fort – to see what is referred to as the Alabaster Mosque and another older but less impressive one. We went onto the Coptic quarter to visit three fascinating churches – the ‘Hanging Church’ – which was built directly over the old Roman fort, as if to say, “We have out lived the Romans!” Next was St George’s, which had a museum including torture equipment used to solicit Christian faith! The last Church visited in the morning was referred to as the ‘Cavern’ church because it was built over a cavern where the Holy family stayed for three months after fleeing the wrath of Herod. This is one of twenty-six sites in Egypt which claim the family stayed there over the course of the three years there were on the run. We then went onto the Ben Ezra Synagogue – the only functioning one in Cairo. The story goes that the Christian church were in a bit of a bother over unpaid taxes and sold a church to Ben Ezra who turned it into a Synagogue. Another story goes that it was a lease for a hundred years – but no dated contract stating when the hundred years started has been found.
After a well-earned lunch we had the afternoon in Cairo Museum. Words fail to describe the overwhelming old-world charm and magnificence of this museum – the first ever built for the purpose of being a museum. It has over 100,000 items. Sherif our guide high-lighted a few items – including a stature of the builder of the 2nd Pyramid – they don’t how they were able to carve it out of the material with the tools available. We saw the copy of the Rosetta stone – the original is in the British Museum – the key to de-coding much of the ancient language of the Egyptians.
We arrived back at our hotel tired and hot and exhausted but with a sense of gratitude for a wonderful day.
staircase down to cavern