After Siwa, we returned to Cairo for another 4 night stay. This time we stayed at the Villa Belle Epoque. The villa was written up as a "boutique" hotel / B&B and sounded very intriguing so we thought we would give it a try. It is located in a section of Cairo called Maadi - a very nice residential area where a lot of ex-pats and foreigners live. However, it was a mistake for us because it was too far out of the center of the city. One night we took the Metro (subway) into town to see the opera Carmen. Even though it was a very easy trip on a VERY clean subway, Maadi was an inconvenient place for us to stay.
Our second visit to Cairo was very busy as we had a number of excursions planned. Our first tour was to "Coptic Cairo". This is a section of Old Cairo and is the site of many old Christian churches and the oldest synagogue in Cairo.
Our first stop was at the Babylon Fortress and the "Hanging Church".
A section of the Babylon Fortress
Mosaic on the way to Hanging Church
Inside the Hanging Church
Is this keeping people out or in?
We went on to visit one of the cemetaries and then St. George Church which is the only round chuch in Egypt. We also visited Ben Ezra Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Cairo. Unfortunately no photos were permitted in Ben Ezra.
After Coptic Cairo, we headed toward the "Garbage City". While passing through the Ciry of the Dead, I spotted a man in the street spinning thread. I was intriqued so we stopped in order to see what he was doing and take a few pictures. Look closely at the center picture. Those threads run down the street to the end and then back.
:The residents of "Garbage City", mostly Coptic Christians, collect refuse from all over Cairo. They bring it back to "Garbage City" where they sort it and recycle as much as possible. There are a lot of articles written about the area many of which may be locacted using Google.
We visited a small, cottage industry location where women are taking some of the recycleable items and turning them into saleable merchandise. Two of the primary activities at this location are weaving from recycled cloth strips and paper making.
Room full of fabric scraps
Quilting with fabric scraps
<-- Weaving with fabric scraps
Partially finished fabric scrap rug -->
Getting a tray of pulp slurry
Pulling off a sheet of paper
Our next stop was the largest Coptic Christian church in Egypt. This large church, on the edge of the "Garbage City", has been built in a cave. By Cairo standards, it is VERY new - built in the 1970s. More than one church was built on the site. I found them interesting not only because of their size and the way they were built in the caves but also because the carvings are in English. I have included the explanations of the churches which you can read if you click to enlarge them.
The two pictures above are of St. Simon church. This church which is built into the side of the mountain and part of a cave, is partly open to the elements. Also notice the screen used for better viewing from the rear.
The two pictures below are of St. Marks church. It is totally inside the cave but still seats a large number. When we were there, there were a couple of people rehearsing something. The acoustics were amazingly good without the aid of electronics.
In true ecumenical spirit, our next stop was Ibn Tulun mosque. Ibn Tulun is the oldest mosque in Egypt and one of the largest in the world. The arches are carved stucco. At first glance it looks like the patterns are repeated and might have been done with a stencil On closer examination you can see that no two patterns are identical. There are always small differences. Also notice the unusual minaret with the spiral staircase around the outside. We did NOT climb the minaret. I think we were too tired by that time.
Granny examining one of the arches