As we continue on this 11-day cruise and tour of Egypt, today we find ourselves exploring in the old part of the city of Cairo. This area of Old Cairo, once considered the Roman stronghold of Babylon, encompasses several religious sites including the Coptic Christian Hanging Church, the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George and an Islamic Mosque all within a stone's throw of each other.
We start our visit today with the Hanging Church, which is one of the oldest Coptic Christian churches in the world. This church is named the hanging church because it was built on the top of the southern gate of the Roman fortress, which gives the impression that it is "hanging" above the passersby. The Hanging Church is a stunning example of ancient Christian architecture, with its iconic wooden roof and intricately carved wooden screens.
The next place we visit is the Greek Church of St George, also located in Old Cairo. This beautiful church is ornately decorated with frescoes and icons, and the nave is stunningly adorned with a golden mosaic of St. George slaying the dragon. It's a truly breathtaking sight. If you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the local congregation during one of their worship services - but not today. The Holy Family was supposed to have traveled through Egypt and stayed in the basement of this church.
But Old Cairo is more than just churches. With its bustling markets and narrow streets, there's always something new and exciting to discover. The Khan el Khalili market is a destination where you can haggle for everything from spices and jewelry to clothing and souvenirs. And if you're looking for a bite to eat, Old Cairo has plenty of street food vendors who serve up local cuisine like falafel and kushari.
When we’re done exploring Old Cairo this morning, we head to the airport for a short flight south (but up river) to the city of Luxor, formerly known as Thebes, the capital city of the New Kingdom of Upper Egypt. Luxor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to two astonishing temples—Karnak and Luxor. It’s also the gateway to many of Egypt’s vast treasures that we’ll discover in the next few days.