Showing posts with label Coptic Cairo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coptic Cairo. Show all posts

Sunday, July 30, 2017

New Discovery, Cairo: Medieval Coptic Wall-Paintings Uncovered at Egyptian Monastery

Restorers at the Monastery of St. Bishoy near Cairo have uncovered frescoes depicting saints, martyrs and angels. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

One of The Paintings Discovered At The Monastery
Restorers working at the Monastery of St. Bishoy in the Wadi El-Natroun area have uncovered a number of medieval-era wall-paintings and architectural elements in the monastery's old church.

“While removing the modern layer of mortar from the walls of the monastery's old church, several coloured wall-paintings were uncovered,” Mohamed Abdellatif, deputy antiquities minister for archaeological sites, told Ahram Online.

He explained that the paintings date from between the 9th and 13th centuries AD, which will help archaeologists to determine the original architectural style of the church and the dates of its construction.

According to historical books and religious documents, he said, the church was subjected to changes and modifications in its architecture in 840 AD, during the Abbasid era, and in 1069 AD, during the Fatimid caliphate.

The Ambon
Ahmed El-Nemr, a member of the ministry’s scientific bureau, said that the newly discovered wall-paintings are frescoes, and depict scenes of saints and angels with Coptic religious inscriptions below.

“The most distinguished paintings are those on the western and eastern walls of the church,” he said, describing the painting on the western wall as showing a woman named as Refka and her five sons, who were martyred during the persecution of Christians by the Roman empire.

The painting on the eastern wall depicts three saints and an archangel, and features Coptic writings below. El-Nemr explained that when restorers removed the modern additions they stumbled upon the ambon, an elevated platform that is a feature of many orthodox churches.

The newly discovered ambon is made of mud-brick covered with a layer of mortar and decorated with a red cross. Some geometric drawings, crosses and lettering were also found in various parts of the church.

The conservation project by the antiquities ministry has been ongoing since 2015, when a number of monasteries in the Wadi El-Natroun area experienced flooding.

The Monastery of St. Bishoy is around 100 kilometres north-west of Cairo, and is located along the Cairo-Alexandria highway. It has a collection of buildings, including five churches and a fort, as well as the tomb of the late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III, who died in 2012.

Monday, July 17, 2017

News, Cairo: AUC Hands Over to Egypt 5,000 Artifacts From Past Archaeological Excavations

The American University in Cairo is to transfer nearly 5,000 Islamic, Coptic, Pharaonic, Greco-Roman artifacts to the possession of the Egyptian state. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Coins
AUC has been in legal possession of these antiquities since the 1960s, ensuring their preservation. “Though we legally possessed these artifacts and scrupulously preserved and protected them over so many years, we took the initiative to transfer these important antiquities to the Ministry of Antiquities because we felt that this should be their rightful home,” said AUC President Francis J Ricciardone. “Egyptology has been one of AUC’s most beloved fields over many years. In collaboration with the ministry, we have always strived to advance the field globally, through both our scholarship and our demonstration of responsible stewardship,” he added.

Former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs Zahi Hawass commended this collaboration. “I am thrilled to know that AUC gave its antiquities collection to the Ministry of Antiquities as a gift,” said Hawass, who had officially stated in 2011, while serving as minister, that all artifacts in AUC’s storage were registered and documented with the ministry.

An Islamic clay lamp
The nearly 5,000 pieces were registered and reviewed in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities. They date from a time when archaeological material, after a stringent review, did not have to remain exclusively in the hands of the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation (now the Supreme Council of Antiquities).

The bulk of the materials consisted of fragments of everyday pottery, such as bowls, ulnas, jars and lusterware vessels. Most of the materials could be dated back to the 10th and 11th centuries. Some of the objects in the collection had been legal gifts to the university. 

“The materials from the excavation often seem humble, but they help fill in the blanks to understand what people ate, their social class and trade in the region,” said Distinguished University Professor Salima Ikram and head of the Egyptology unit at AUC’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology.

Clay fragments 
“The pots, for example, can point to how people lived and the technologies used at the time, and can demonstrate artistic influence on ceramic production and decoration.”

Specifically, AUC acquired most of these artifacts during joint excavations in the Fustat area led by the late George Scanlon, professor emeritus in AUC’s Department of Arab and Islamic Civilisations who became a prominent name in the field of Islamic archaeology. “George Scanlon’s work at Fustat was invaluable, as it set the stage for Islamic archaeology in Egypt,” said Ikram. 

“He and his colleagues helped create the discipline, fusing art history, archaeology and texts in an effort to understand the administrative, sacred and secular lives of the inhabitants of Fustat, one of the first Muslim capitals of Egypt.”

Ikram had reviewed the Pharaonic materials in AUC’s possession, while Scanlon was responsible for the Fustat materials. The objects were regularly checked against the list made by AUC and the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation. “The Fustat objects had already been catalogued by Dr Scanlon, who excavated them, so they were fully recorded,” said Ikram. The discovery of these artifacts was shared between Egypt and the American mission at that time.

A ceramic tile 
After this excavation, the diverse antiquities were brought to AUC, and the university came to legally possess these artifacts in accordance with the Egyptian Antiquities Law No 215 for 1951, which previously allowed foreign excavations in Egypt to keep 50 percent of their findings. The remaining 50 percent of the artifacts went to the Egyptian state. Throughout AUC’s period of custody over the collection, the materials were kept under close surveillance, and were securely stored to prevent damage. The special storage room, locked behind two secure doors, was equipped with protected cupboards to ensure the safekeeping of the materials.

The same committee from the Ministry of Antiquities responsible for the recent handover had collaborated closely with AUC over the years to conduct reviews of the collection twice a year, keeping records of the inventory and maintaining photographic documentation.

In May 2017, the Ministry of Antiquities assigned a special committee to review the inventory of antiquities at AUC, comparing it to its own government records. They worked with AUC’s Office of Legal Affairs to ensure that all antiquities were preserved and documented in the handover. “This [transfer] is incredible news, and I hope that any institution that owns antiquities not shown in museums would give them back,” said Hawass.

“AUC President Francis Ricciardone will be remembered in history because of his courage, power and honesty to take this decision,” Hawass added.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

News, Cairo: Exhibition Commemorating Coptic 'Martyrs' Inaugurated at Coptic Museum

An exhibition on Egypt’s Coptic 'martyrs' from the early Coptic era until the present was inaugurated on Thursday at Cairo’s Coptic MuseumWritten By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Senkesar book/ Photo by Ahmed El-Nemr
Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and Bishop Julius of the Old Cairo Churches inaugurated on Thursday an archaeological exhibition at the Coptic Museum titled “Egypt Martyrs."

The exhibition pays homage to Egyptian martyrs across the span of the country’s history with a focus on Copts who were killed during the period of religious persecution by the Romans in the early Christian era as well as Egyptians (whether Christian or Muslims) killed in terrorist attacks in recent years. The exhibition spans up until the most recent deadly sectarian attack against Christians in December 2016 at the St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Cairo, which killed 28 Copts.

Ahmed El-Nemr, the supervisor general of the Coptic Antiquities Documentation Department, told Ahram Online that the exhibition put on show ten artifacts carefully selected from the museum’s treasured collection and banners displaying martyrs. The artifacts, he pointed out, include three icons, a relief, a copy of Al-Senkesar (a book commemorating the life of Coptic Saints) as well as glass and clay oil chandeliers.
Source: Ahram Online 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

News, Cairo: Allegations of Botched Restoration of Cairo's Medieval Walls are 'Lies': Antiquities Ministry

Cultural and heritage activists say that Cairo's eastern and northern medieval walls are being restored incorrectly. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Egypt's antiquities ministry has denied allegations by a group of conservation activists that the restoration of part of Cairo's medieval walls is being done unprofessionally and damaging the ancient structures. Earlier this month, a group of heritage and archaeological activists warned that Cairo's medieval eastern and northern walls were being incorrectly restored and reported the whole matter to the prosecutor-general.

The Antiquities Revolutionaries, a Facebook watchdog group, had published a series photos as well as a leaked memo from a group of inspectors working with the antiquities ministry, detailing how the medieval wall was being badly restored.  "All those claims are lies; they were spread by members of the inspection team who were excluded from the project for incompetence," Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, the head of historical Cairo project and a deputy antiquity minister, told Ahram Online.

"Even the pictures they shared online do not indicate or prove anything. Yes, we use cement for supporting columns, but 50 metres away from the ancient wall," he added. The dispute comes as another episode in the country’s recent line of restorations that have gone wrong. The leaked memo sent by a group of archaeological inspectors in the committee assigned by the Ministry of Antiquities to supervise the restoration works in December highlights apparent problems with the restoration.

Among the points raised in the report was how the medieval wall's mud bricks were replaced unnecessarily by new bricks.  The report further states that there had been no plan by the restoration company to secure the old wall's bricks before or during the restoration works, which led to the leaking of cement on the site.

The medieval eastern and northern Cairo walls were built in the 12th century, during the rule of Saladin, then sultan of Egypt and Syria. Sally Soliman, a cultural and heritage activist, told Ahram Online that she visited the site in late December and took photos showing what she considered clear evidence of the unprofessional restoration that had been carried out there.

"They simply replaced ancient mud brick with bricks and cement unprofessionally," the co-founder of Save Cairo heritage watchdog group said. She also added that there are concerns about the public sector construction and restoration company that is handling the project. A total of LE167 million has been allocated by Egypt's Ministry of Housing to restore Cairo's medieval walls. The project is assigned to public sector company Wadi Al-Nil, a construction and restoration company, with the Ministry of Antiquities supervising it.

The company’s previous restoration projects include the Mohamed Ali Palace in Shubra El-Kheima. In 2012, after six years of restoration, parts of the Mohamed Ali Palace project in Shubra El-Kheima collapsed despite being restored at a cost of LE55 million. The palace is currently closed after it was further damaged by a bomb that exploded outside Qalioubiya security directorate -- a few blocks away -- in August 2015. 

Asked by Ahram Online about the memo leaked online that details the violations in the restoration works, Aziz said that it was leaked by a group of "young, angry and incompetent" inspectors who were excluded from the project. "They released it the day after they were excluded. Why didn’t they release it before or during the six months that they worked in the committee?" he asked. According to the leaked internal memo to the minister by the group of inspectors, they did report the violations six months ago as well as four months ago again, to both the Historical Cairo project and the Ministry of Housing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

News, Cairo: A Campaign to Rescue 100 Mediaeval Monuments Launched

A national campaign to rescue 100 monuments in historic Cairo began at the end of July. Written by Nevine El-Aref.

Within the framework of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project (HCRP), the Ministry of Antiquities launched last Thursday a national campaign to safeguard 100 Islamic and Coptic monumental edifices in historic Cairo.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online that the campaign aims at rescuing these monuments not only for their historical and archaeological value but to give them back their original role in the Egyptian community.

Until now, he pointed out, 100 monumental buildings have been rescued since 2000 when the HCRP started and the second lot of 100 structures is to launch now.

Mohamed Abdel Aziz, deputy minister of antiquities for Islamic and Coptic monuments, said that an archaeological committee is now carefully selecting the 100 monuments in order to start their restoration and rehabilitation.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Restoring the synagogue of Moses Ben Maimon

The restoration of the synagogue of Moses Ben Maimon in Cairo demonstrates Egypt’s care for its Jewish heritage, writes Zahi Hawass. 

The synagogue of Moses Ben Maimon is important to the hearts of the Jewish people of Egypt. Before the restoration work on the synagogue started, the building was in ruins, and my assistants and I were able to return it to its former glory.

The temple was built after the death of Ben Maimon (Maimonides) in the 13th century and is located inside the Alley of the Jews in the Muski district of Cairo. The Jewish people were prosperous during the Fatimid period in Egypt. In 1179 CE, Sultan Salah Al-Din Al-Ayubi appointed Ben Maimon to be his personal physician and to act as the head of the Fustat physicians.

The Jews lived in Egypt as Egyptians and enjoyed freedom of worship, as is attested by the ten Jewish temples recorded as antiquities in Egypt, nine in Cairo and one in Alexandria. This temple of Ben Maimon is one of them.

The entrance to the temple was located in the northwest corner of the façade that looked onto the Alley of Mahmoud. Its iron door had a half-circle shape, at the top of which were Hebrew words from the Ten Commandments. The temple is divided into three main sections. The first includes the religious school built during the lifetime of Ben Maimon (1135-1204 CE) and that housed his burial place before his remains were moved to Palestine.

Near his tomb was a small room where Jewish supplicants for miracles and cures would sleep overnight. The second section was used for prayer and religious rituals, and the third contained side rooms used as service areas and to house the temple supervisor and administrators.

The most important part of the temple is the wooden altar that faces the entrance. It contains an ark in which was kept the Old Testament. The altar features botanical decorations in many different colours. In front of the altar is a small basin for water, and adjacent to it is a candleholder with seven branches as a symbol of light. Because in a Jewish orthodox temple it was customary for men and women to be separated, a balcony was constructed for women to participate in prayer and observe proceedings. Before the restoration work, the temple was in ruins. It was filled with debris, and most of its architectural components were damaged.

The restoration team fully documented its condition before restoration and researched the proper materials for its repair. Many samples were taken from the mortar for analysis. We removed all the debris from the temple floor and carefully collected any archaeological materials until the floor was clean. 

We moved the wooden door and windows to the conservation lab and removed two marble stelae of Ben Maimon to storage for preservation. We also removed any additional buildings that were not contemporary with the temple, as well as any painting that had been done in previous restorations.

A major problem for the stability of the temple was the high level of groundwater beneath it. This issue was addressed, and the floor was injected with material to help stabilise it. Then each part of the temple was cleaned, and missing parts were reconstructed. The altar was restored, and some parts of the temple were rebuilt based on old photographs.

The restoration of the temple of Moses Ben Maimon was a very successful scientific project supervised by Aiman Hamed of Suez Canal University. He is a young man of genius, and he later published a book in Arabic that described every step of the documentation and implementation of the work, as well as the restoration of the temple decoration. I myself visited the conservation team several times to see the progress of the work.

When the restoration project was finished, I called a press conference and reporters came from all over the world to celebrate the completion of the conservation work. Many members of the foreign press came and were able to publicise how Egypt takes care of its monuments. I affirmed that Jewish temples are a part of our history, and it is our duty to protect our history.

The project was also welcomed by the Egyptian people. I cannot forget the phone call I received from a Jewish Egyptian woman who used to live next door to the temple. She told me that she was happy to hear that the temple had been restored, because Moses Ben Maimon was dear to the hearts of the Jews. She was crying with happiness.

I remembered her when I gave a lecture in Miami in conjunction with an exhibition of photographs of the Holy Land. The organiser was a dentist, and he took me to his home for lunch. I was surprised when the main dish was molokhia. I mentioned that this had to have been made by an Egyptian, and I discovered that he had married an Egyptian Jew. It was the very lady who had made the phone call.

I would also like to mention that Carmen Weinstein, the head of the Jewish community in Cairo, came to see me after she had attended the press conference that was held in the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue in Old Cairo.

Carmen was very happy that we had begun to restore six synagogues in Cairo for the first time, showing how much Egypt cares about the Egyptian Jews and the ten synagogues in Cairo and Alexandria that are an important part of Egypt’s history. Carmen, who was a great supporter of efforts to restore monuments from Egypt’s Jewish history, passed away at the age of 82 in 2013.
 Explore Old Cairo with Egitalloyd Travel  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Short Story: A Cosmopolitan City: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Old Cairo

How did modern Cairo come to be?  Unlike many cities in Egypt which originated during ancient Pharaonic or Greco-Roman times, Cairo is a relatively young city.  The first permanent urban settlement began only in AD 641 but it grew quickly into a sprawling capital city.  This exhibit highlights the diversity of people who were the first to make Old Cairo their home. 

In the exhibit, visitors will explore how Old Cairo’s communities lived together and melded their traditions to create an ever-growing, multi-cultural society during the 7th to 12th centuries AD.   

Although the city was governed by Muslim Arabs, its neighborhoods were populated by people from a patchwork of religious and ethnic communities, including native Egyptians and many immigrants.  The exhibit puts a special focus on the three main religious communities - Muslims, Christians, and Jews – whose members helped shape Old Cairo’s neighborhoods, markets, and public places.

Each of Old Cairo’s communities will be brought to life through documents that highlight the words and thoughts of individuals, including letters from the Genizah (a deposit of Jewish manuscripts preserved for centuries in a synagogue), early Islamic administrative records, and illuminated manuscripts.  The exhibit will also use audio recordings to highlight the human voices that created these written words.

Another theme within the exhibit is the exploration of how Old Cairo’s communities interacted while living in close urban quarters.  Archaeological artifacts such as textiles, pottery, games, and toys show how the boundaries between communities could be blurred.

Old Cairo’s residents often lived similarly across the city and shared many daily activities, traditions, and aspirations.  The archaeological artifacts in the exhibit commemorate 50 years since rescue excavations were conducted at Old Cairo by George Scanlon in collaboration with the American Research Center in Egypt in 1964.  This is the first time that many of these objects have been be displayed.

For Official The Oriental Institute Website  Click Here  
     Explore Old Cairo with Egitalloyd Travel    

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Book Review: Coptic Civilization - Two Thousand Years of Christianity in Egypt

I'd like to wish you all, A wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year!

Whilst the ancient Egyptians may never have celebrated Christmas, it has been a tradition since the Coptic Period. This is celebrated on 29 Koiak of the Coptic Calendar, which is currently the 7th of January. 'Coptic Civilization: Two Thousand Years of Christianity in Egypt' notes that Coptic Calendar is based on the ancient Egyptian calendar (p. 64). Although the religion may have changed, the Coptic people carry on traditions from ancient Egyptians times.
The Coptic people are descendants of the ancient Egyptians, many of whom are still living in Egypt today. Their language, Coptic, is considered to be endangered as it is not spoken daily, but is confined to the liturgy of the Coptic Church. Linguistically, it as the final phase of the ancient Egyptian language, and is thus used as a basis for reconstructing the ancient Egyptian tongue. 

"Both native and Hellenistic styles influenced the culture of Coptic Egypt. At first, pagan themes predominated but by the fourth and fifth centuries AD, Coptic art increasingly expressed itself through Christian motifs, eventually becoming the distinctive art of Christian Egypt."

The Copts also perform religious music, as they did in pharonic times. According to 'Coptic Civilization: Two Thousand Years of Christianity in Egypt' (pp. 73-75), Christmas is celebrated by the Coptic people with two special melodies, which were difficult to reproduce in spring or summer.

During the Fifth Century between 440-450 AD, the people of Constantinople demanded that and Coptic layman, Cyrus of Panopolis (a famous epic poet, philosopher, lover of Greek arts) give a Christmas sermon. This was one of the shortest Christmas sermons recorded:

"Brethren, let the birth of God our Saviour Jesus Christ be honoured with silence, because the Word of God was conceived in the holy Virgin through hearing also. To him be glory forever, Amen."

Like modern Coptic Christmas, Celebration, gifts of food, and feasting were the hallmarks of the ancient Egyptian New Year. However, in ancient Egyptian times, presents were often exchanged in the form of amulets of the goddess Sekhmet. Although modern Copts may no longer celebrate in the same manner as their ancestors, the holiday season is still filled with gifts, food and festive spirits.

by Gawdat Gabra (Editor)

You can buy it through Amazon.com

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Reopening, Cairo: Egypt's 'Hanging Church' officially inaugurated Yesterday

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Pope Towadros II of Alexandria opened the Hanging Church in Old Cairo Yesterday after 16 years of restoration at a budget of LE101 million
church's main hall
Within the framework of the antiquities ministry's effort to protect and preserve Egypt’s Coptic shrines, PM Ibrahim Mahlab and Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria will officially open yesterday the Hanging Church in Old Cairo.

After 16 years of restoration, the Hanging Church, one of Egypt’s oldest churches, is finally to welcome worshippers and visitors. The opening ceremony is to be attended by Cairo Governor Galal Saeed along with top governmental officials. Antquities Minister Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online that the restoration work of the church lasted for 16 years with a budget of LE101 million, returning the 4th century edifice to its original allure.

He explained that the restoration work was carried out in three phases to reduce water leakage and strengthen the church’s foundations and the Babylon fortress located beneath it, to protect them from potential future damage. The walls were reinforced, missing and decayed stones were replaced and masonry cleaned and desalinated. The decorations and icons of the church were also subject to fine restoration in collaboration with Russian experts. New lighting and ventilation systems have also been installed.

Hanging Church from the courtyard
Located in a heavily populated area, says Wadallah Mohamed, assistant of the head of the projects section at the ministry, the Hanging Church was suffering from environmental hazards including air pollution, a high subsoil water level, a high rate of humidity, and leakage of water from the outdated and a decayed 100-year-old sewage system. Other damage included decorations of the church’s wooden ceiling being stained with smoke and the impact of the 1992 earthquake, which resulted in cracks in the church’s walls and foundations.

“The church is now safe and sound and its restoration was carried out according to the latest technology,” asserted Mohamed. Nashwa Gaber, general director of the technical office at the ministry, said that the Hanging Church is the first church to be built in Egypt in Basilican style. It was built on top of a Babylonian fortress. Important religious ceremonies, continued Gaber, were held there and in the 7th century it became the first seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria in Cairo. It was also a court for breakers of church rituals and laws.

The church is located in Old Cairo in an area called Mogamaa Al-Adian (or "religious compound" in Arabic), which includes the Amr Ibn Al-Ass Mosque, Ben Ezra Synagogue and a collection of churches.
Source: Ahram Online

Sunday, September 7, 2014

News: Finally Cairo's Hanging Church set to open in October

Hanging Church in Old Cairo will reopen in October after long process of renovation
  
After four years of restoration work, the Hanging Church is set to officially reopen to the public in mid-October. Antiquities Minister Mamdouh El-Damati announced the reopening on Tuesday during his inspection tour around the different monuments of Mogamaa Al-Adian (religious compound), which includes the Amr Ibn Al-Ass Mosque, Ben Ezra Synagogue and a collection of churches.

This fourth-century edifice reached the end of its restoration in 2010 after 13 years of being hidden under iron scaffolding and piles of sand. Workers recovered the church and polished and strengthened its walls, ceilings and towers.

With its Basilica-style architecture on top of the Roman fortress of Babylon, the Hanging Church will greet its visitors and worshipers in mid-October.

During the tour, El-Damati announced that the adjacent church of Abu Serga will also be inaugurated in December after its restoration. He also declared that the entirety of Mogamaa Al-Adian is to be closed to traffic the same way El-Moez street was to provide serenity and divinity for its visitors and worshipers.

El-Damati described the awful condition of the streets surrounding the monuments as “shocking” and pledged to immediately contact Cairo’s governor to remove all of the garbage that is scattered all over the streets and external walls of the monuments.

Hanging Church from the courtyard
Mohamed El-Sheikha, head of the projects section, told Ahram Online that the Hanging Church is safe and that all restoration works were carried out professionally and according to the latest technology.

He explained that the official inauguration was put on hold due to the lack of security in the aftermath of the January 2011 uprising but that now it is safe for Egyptians to celebrate its inauguration.

He went on to say that the Hanging Church, like other monuments located in heavily populated areas, was suffering from environmental hazards including air pollution, a high subsoil water level, a high rate of humidity, leakage of water from the outdated and a decayed 100-year-old sewage system. Other hazards include decorations of the church’s wooden ceiling being stained with smoke and the adverse effects of the 1992 earthquake, which resulted in more cracks on the church’s walls and foundation.

In 1997 the then Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) launched a comprehensive restoration project to preserve Egypt’s Coptic shrine and restore such a distinguished church to its original splendor.

The restoration work was carried out in three phases to reduce water leakage and strengthen the church’s foundations and the Babylon fortress to protect them from potential future damage. The walls were reinforced, missing and decayed stones were replaced and masonry cleaned and desalinated.

The decorations and icons of the church were also subjected to fine restoration in collaboration with Russian experts; new lighting and ventilation systems have also been installed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

SEE EGYPT (15), Cairo: Cairo Time, a discovery of the city

To follow the SEE EGYPT Collection and Video about Egypt

Below video about C A I R O,
Cairo (/ˈkaɪroʊ/ kye-roh ; Arabic: القاهرة‎) is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Middle-East and Africa. Its metropolitan area is the 16th largest in the world. Located near the Nile Delta, it was founded in CE 969. Nicknamed "the city of a thousand minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a center of the region's political and cultural life. 
Cairo Time
Ahmed Badr / Ahmed Mamoud / Esra Mohsen / Hady Mohamed / Mohamed Hassan
Music by Peter White - Caravan of Dreams

Copyrights to the talented team
Thanks to the Cast of Cairo Time video …
Ahmed Badr / Ahmed Mamoud / Esra Mohsen / Hady Mohamed / Mohamed Hassan

Related Video about Egypt

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cairo Attractions (3): Coptic Cairo, Old Cairo Area

There is evidence of settlement in the area as early as the 6th century BC, when Persians built a fort on the Nile, north of Memphis. The Persians also built a canal from the Nile (at Fustat) to the Red Sea. The Persian settlement was called Babylon, reminiscent of the ancient city along the Euphrates, and it gained importance while the nearby city of Memphis declined, as did Heliopolis. During the Ptolemaic period, Babylon and its people were mostly forgotten.

It is traditionally held that the Holy Family visited the area during the Flight into Egypt, seeking refuge from Herod. Further it is held that Christianity began to spread in Egypt when St. Mark arrived in Alexandria, becoming the first Patriarch, though the religion remained underground during the rule of the Romans. As the local population began to organize towards a revolt, the Romans, recognising the strategic importance of the region, took over the fort and relocated it nearby as the Babylon Fortress.Trajan reopened the canal to the Red Sea, bringing increased trade, though Egypt remained a backwater as far as the Romans were concerned.

Under the Romans, St. Mark and his successors were able to convert a substantial portion of the population, from pagan beliefs to Christianity. As the Christian communities in Egypt grew, they were subjected to persecution by the Romans, under Emperor Diocletian around 300 AD, and the persecution continued following the Edict of Milan that declared religious toleration. The Coptic Church later separated from the church of the Romans and the Byzantines. Under the rule of Arcadius (395-408), a number of churches were built in Old Cairo. In the early years of Arab rule, the Copts were allowed to build several churches within the old fortress area of Old Cairo.

1 - The Hanging Church :
The Hanging Church is also referred to as the Suspended Church or Al-Moallaqa. It is called the Hanging Church because it was built on the southern gate of the Roman Fortress. Logs of palm trees and layers of stones were constructed above the ruins of the Roman fortress to be used as a fundament. The Hanging Church is a unique church and has a wooden roof in the shape of Noah’s ark. From the 7th century to the 13th century, the Hanging Church served as the residence of the Coptic Patriarch. Al-Moallaqa has witnessed important elections and religious ceremonies. 
Source: Coptic -Cairo
2 – St. Serguies church
This is the oldest church inside the walls, built in the 11th century with 3rd- and 4th-century pillars. It honours two Syrian saints and is built over a cave where Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus are said to have taken shelter after fleeing to Egypt to escape persecution from King Herod of Judea, who had embarked upon a ‘massacre of the first born’. The cave in question, now a crypt, is reached by descending steps in a chapel to the left of the altar (usually locked). Every year, on 1 June, a special mass is held here to commemorate the event. To get here, walk down the central lane (Haret Al-Kidees Girgis), turning right at the T, then left as it jogs; stairs lead down to the entrance, below street level.
Source: Lonely planet 
3 – Ben ezra synagogue 

The Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo is located behind the Hanging Church and was once a church itself.
The Ben Ezra Synagogue was originally a Christian church, which the Coptic Christians of Cairo had to sell to the Jews in 882 AD in order to pay the annual taxes imposed by the Muslim rulers of the time. The church was purchased by Abraham Ben Ezra, who came from Jerusalem during the reign of Ahmed Ibn Tulun, for 20,000 dinars.
The synagogue was a place of pilgrimage for North African Jews and the site of major festival celebrations. The famous medieval rabbi Moses Maimonides worshiped at Ben Ezra synagogue when he lived in Cairo.
4 – St. George Church 
The unique Church of St. George is the only round church found in Egypt. Built in the 10th century on top of a Roman tower of the fortified town called Babylon, the church is connected to the Monastery of St. George and is the seat of the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria.

Ascend the steps along the Roman towers and see a relief of St. George slaying a dragon on the outer brickwork of the wall. Inside, the austere ancient artwork grace the church with depictions of St. George and his quest to defend Christianity.
5- Coptic museum

The Coptic Museum lies behind the walls of the famous Roman fortress of Babylon in the ancient district of Cairo (Misr Al-Qadima). The area surrounding the museum abounds in lively monuments in an "open museum" that depicts the history of the Coptic period in Egypt. Marcus Simaika Pasha founded this museum in 1910 to collect material necessary to study the history of Christianity in Egypt. At that time there were several museums in Egypt: the Cairo Museum for pharaonic antiquities, the Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria, and the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo. The Coptic Museum was founded to fill the gap in the records of Egyptian history and art.

The largest collection of Coptic artifacts and the most significant collection of Coptic art in the world are found in this museum and include 16,000 pieces. The Old Wing of the museum is a fine piece of architecture consisting of a series of large rooms. In 1931, the Egyptian government recognized the importance of the Coptic Museum and attached it to the state. In 1947, a large New Wing was opened, its style similar to that of the Old Wing. President Mubarak opened the restored museum in 1984.

The old wing of the museum houses a collection of wood furnishings and inlaid doors. Of special note is the sycamore wood sanctuary screen from the Church of Saint Barbara. The panels are recognizable as having been crafted in the Fatimid period during the eleventh or twelfth century. The collection housed in the new wing contains objects decorated with geometric designs, scrolls of acanthus and vine leaves, and friezes inhabited by rabbits, peacocks, birds, and rural activities. These styles and themes were passed from the Hellenistic and Coptic legacy into the Islamic artistic vocabulary in Egypt.