The Church of St. Barbara is right in the heart of old Cairo, but with so many sites to visit in Egypt, one would be forgiven for overlooking places like this old church. However, it is honestly a little gem worth seeing, particularly if you have some time on your hands.
A Walking Tour Of Old Cairo
Old Cairo has a very special sort of charm which is difficult to explain with words. The best way to experience this fascinating part of the city is by means of a walking tour. In fact, no trip to Cairo is complete without a walking tour of Old Cairo, and the beauty of it is, all the best attractions are in close proximity to each other, and of course there are plenty of places where you can stop for a short break if the heat starts getting to you.
The most popular attraction in Old Cairo is the Coptic area. Here visitors will be able to explore places like the famous Hanging Church; the Babylon Fortress, and even the Coptic Museum. It is also home to other historical sites, including the Ben Ezra Synagogue and the Church of St. Barbara.
Many who are not of the Coptic or Christian faiths might ask why they would pay a visit to this district, and the reasons are simple – it is one of the loveliest, most historic, and most interesting neighborhoods in the city!
A Resting Place For The Holy Family
The Coptic area is also believed to be the location where the Holy Family stopped and rested on their way into Egypt. In fact, legend has it that Joseph; Mary and Jesus rested in the cave which is currently located under the old forth century Church of Abu Serga. Interestingly, this part of the city has been continually inhabited since the sixth century BC, or earlier, and was home to the Persians who built canals from the Nile into the area long before modern settlement.
Church of St. Barbara
As already mentioned, the Coptic area of Old Cairo is also home to the beautiful Church of St. Barbara. This is known to be one of the oldest buildings in the city, and one of the finest examples of true Coptic architecture still in existence. It was once home to many treasures and valuable religious items, but most of these were sent for safekeeping to the nearby Coptic Museum. Visitors are still given a treat as they tour the lovely basilica and sanctuary, see the massive marble columns and rounded choir area.
Though it is labeled as one of the oldest buildings, like so many other churches in the Coptic area, it too has been continually improved, restored, and renovated over the years. It was actually burned during the “Fustat” of 750, and was slowly restored over the following centuries. Today, the structure is mostly comprised of the work done during the 11th century; much of which was once again restored during the 1900s as well.
There are many tours of the Church of St. Barbara and the entire Coptic area each day. Given the sheer number of attractions in the area, a full day should be allowed for a comprehensive tour of the area. The Mar Girgis Station is directly adjacent to Coptic Cairo as well, and this makes it easy to reach. Alternatively, a taxi ride can bring a visitor to the main entrances of the Coptic Compound as well. This is a “must-see” destination and one that deserves a full day to enjoy.
If you would like to explore the Coptic Compound and the many beautiful Cairo attractions such as the Church of St. Barbara, please be sure to visit our Islamic and Christian Sightseeing Tours in Cairo.
We also offer an extensive range of high quality Egyptian tour packages and custom Egypt tours. All are private tours which can be tailored specifically to your own personal desires. With more than half a century of experience behind us, your satisfaction is well and truly guaranteed – come and explore the historical Church of St. Barbara us.