>Travel Pictures


Cairo: Coptic Cairo

Besides the ancient polytheists and the modern Muslims, there is a thriving Christian minority in Egypt, and there has been for centuries.

Although the face of Islam is still predominant, we explored Coptic Cairo one evening - an area of winding alleys and shrines to saints.

Barricaded behind reinforced doors, the residents of this area are, in many cases, descendants from native Egyptians who became Christian in the earliest days of the religion. In fact, one of the stories is that this was the place that Joseph and Mary fled with the baby Jesus to escape Herod's soldiers! The Romans made their presence known here as well, constructing huge forts and round guard towers that are still standing today.

The Byzantine -era churches, with their ornate, geometric stained glass windows were fantastic to explore.

It seemed that around every corner and in every nook and cranny there was something fascinating to look at.

We were certainly welcomed in by the armed guards and churchmen, and oohed and ahhed over the beautiful inlaid mother-of-pearl that decorated many table tops and tiles.

We ran into our old friend St. George here...

The Madonna and baby watched over us as we explored the quaint back alleys and jumbled buildings.

And chuckled at two young men gazing wistfully at a headdress-covered young woman walking off into the distance.

As the evening shadows fell over the guards, we stopped off for a cold drink at one of the sidewalk stands. We has seen so much history in a day, stretching from thousands of years BCE through the middle ages right up to the modern day. It was a wonderful stroll through one fascinating city.

Thanks, St. Barbara, for watching over us!

Even if we always weren't glad to play the tourist!!
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