Sunday, March 17th, 2019
Our first stop today was to visit the Citadel of Saladin, a medieval fortification, including the Mohammed Ali Alabaster Mosque. The Citadel was started by Saladin in 1176 to protect them from the Crusaders. It was home to Egypt’s rulers for 700 years.
One of the three mosques located in the Citadel is the Mosque of Mohammed Ali.
This mosque took 18 years to complete in the 1800s. Its interior has many chandeliers and striped stone. The main dome is emerald green and Mohammed Ali’s tomb is located in the mosque. Before entering the courtyard our shoes were to be covered or taken off. All of us had the booties covering our shoes and it cost a dollar.
This mosque is visited by many. It is located in the center of the Citadel. From the Citadel are some fantastic views of Cairo and in the distance you can see the Pyramids of Giza.
Our next stop was in Old Cairo. We visited the Al Moallaka Church which is also called the Hanging Church. It is still in use. It was built in the 9th century and is nicknamed the Hanging Church because it is suspended over the Water Gate of Roman Babylon.
There are over 100 icons in the church. Near the entrance to the church a panel has been cut out of the floor to reveal the Water Gate below.
We then visited the Ben Ezra Synagogue which is also an active synagogue. Next to the synagogue is a spring that is supposed to mark the place where the pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in the reeds. The 9th century synagogue was built around the shell of a 4th century Christian church. The synagogue was restored in the 12th century by Abraham Ben Ezra who was a rabbi of Jerusalem.
The Church of St. Sergious and Bacchus is the oldest church in Coptic Cairo.
It was built over the cave where Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are said to have stayed for several months when they fled to Egypt to escape persecution from King Herod of Judea!
After finishing our walk through Coptic Cairo we boarded our bus to visit a cotton department store to look around and purchase an Egyptian galabeya (which is a traditional Egyptian garment) if interested, because one evening on our Nile River cruise there will be a Galabeya Party!
Whenever we are on the bus heading somewhere it was always fascinating to watch out the windows! We saw cows being hauled in the back of a small truck, a small truck loaded to the max with freshly picked garlic, cars speeding along with horse and buggies, or mules pulling a cart, and cars just driving and/or parking every which way!
Our lunch today was provided at a restaurant on the Nile. It was buffet style and consisted of Egyptian cuisine. The afternoon was spent exploring the Egyptian Antiquities Museum. It was overwhelming!
So many things to see and everywhere you looked there was a piece of Egyptian history to see and learn about its significance. We spent all afternoon there and barely put a dent in seeing all of the artifacts! It has over 120,000 items. It costs extra to use a camera or cell phone to take pictures inside the museum. We saw the gold mask of King Tutankhamum (made of 11 kg or over 24 pounds of solid gold) No pictures were allowed of the mask and also of the 22 Royal mummies that we saw. Our heads were spinning with all that we viewed in the museum.
A few of the items found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun (King Tut) are pictured below!
Some other items from the museum.
After dinner we attended a lecture on Ancient Egypt by Farag AlSharabasy at our hotel.
Today was definitely a full and exhausting day in Cairo but we enjoyed every minute.