Visiting Coptic Cairo and The Church That Hid Jesus

For my last tour day, I am told we are going to Garbage City today to see the Monastery of Saint Simon. I have no idea what to expect. Apparently, everyone who lives in this town works in the garbage industry. There is zero unemployment. To say there is a huge trash problem in Cairo is an understatement; there is no official pickup, so rubbish is literally tossed into the streets without a thought.




Cairo has a population of 9.5 million residents, making it impossible for the slum settlement of Manshiyat Nasser to keep the streets clean. Daily workers head out to their private accounts or comb the streets collecting trash, then they bring it back to sort it. I was expecting the aroma to be pungent enough to make eyes water and to cover my nose, but it wasn’t too bad, perhaps the smell just didn’t penetrate through  the car windows. Out of respect, I didn’t take photos.



After we made our way though the scavenger town, we entered the gates of the monastery and into a whole new and impressive world.  Portraits of Jesus, the Ten Commandments, along with other biblical scriptures are carved into the side of the mountain; also there’s a beautiful mosaic that displays the day El Mokattam Mountain was moved.


believers and non witnessing the day the mountain separated




As you enter the summer cave, that seats 20,000, it’s hard to believe that it was once hidden under trash and debris. It took 10,000 garbage people twelve years to clear it out.




The medieval Islamic fortress, Citadel of Saladin, is a short drive away. The Citadel’s museum isn’t open, so we went straight up to the classical Turkish style alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali. This is the largest mosque in the arabic world.


Mosque of Mohammed Ali



Removing my shoes I was allowed to enter; pillars lined the courtyard and a Turkish Baroque ablution fountain stood in the middle. unfortunately, the clock tower has looked like this for way too many years and the clock has never worked.



Built suspended above ancient Roman Fortress ruins, gave the Hanging Church its name, not because they hung people there. Photography is not allowed inside, as far as churches go, it’s nothing spectacular. It is one of the oldest churches in Egypt, dating to the 3rd century AD.



panting outside the doors into the Hanging Church, other’s with same type of angels found inside

The Cavern Church, known as Abu Serga, is where the Holy family stayed when they had to flee to Egypt. When you walk in you might wonder why it’s named the cavern, the building is brick and timber. The ceiling resembles an ark, Noah’s Ark actually.




As you descend the staircase you understand why; there is a cavern below the church. This is where Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus lived. You walk along a boardwalk above the cavern’s floor, cut-outs show you the original floor, where they walked. At the far end, within the brick wall, is a nook where Jesus’s basket was placed while he slept.




Going up the stairs, you can look down into the well that the family drank from, yes, there’s still water far below.


For my farewell tour activity, I chose to take a Felucca ride around the Nile River. The temperature dropped a few degrees and the city traffic noise disappeared. It was the perfect ending to the best vacation ever.




Here’s the video


*Click the links to read   part one  and part two in this series.


Okay, your turn….

Is Egypt somewhere you’d want to go….

8 thoughts on “Visiting Coptic Cairo and The Church That Hid Jesus

  1. Interesting about the cave and it’s incredible that they filled it up with garbage – and that it took 12 years to clear out. Wow.
    So how does garbage disposal work? You mention there’s no official pickup. So it it these private contractors who pick them up? And they get paid by individual residents/businesses to pick up their garbage?

    1. Hi Frank, yep, no official garbage pick up. This goes back to a past president and an agreement with a Spanish company that failed to honor picking up trash. For decades these people have made this their way of life. All garbage is brought back to the city, Manshiyat Nasir, and separated, some residents have pick up arrangements. They resell what can be. BTW, this city was formed to put the Christian people somewhere, livelihood as a garbage collectors. Very interesting indeed.

    1. Hi Agness, The churches are remarkable and not like seen in Europe. I would recommend 4 full days. Three for the itinerary in this blog, plus an extra day to revisit the museum on your own. If you would like to go to Alexandra, add another day, it’s about a 3 hour car ride away. Thank for checking out my blog and for your comment 🙂

  2. This is incredible! 12 years to clean out the rubble. How beautiful though. I would like to see this someday for myself. In Nigeria, there is a whole neighborhood that is just simply trash and people work and live there. They have their own hierarchy and govern themselves. I’ve never been but have seen it from afar. Shows how much waste there is in the world. Thanks for visiting the site, glad l found you. 🙂

    1. Hi Kemkem,This city started when Christians we’re sent to live in the area and designated to the livelihood.The one thing that really bothered me was seeing people dump garbage wherever they desired. Egypt is full of trash. The collectors will never run out of work. Seeing this church was a highlight. I wonder how the Nigerian neighborhood started? Ditto Kemkem, BTW, I found you through Frank (BBQBOY)☺️

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