Coptic Cairo; There is no evidence to suggest that the region surrounding Cairo was settled from the existing heart of the city. The southern coast of Cairo, known as Old Cairo, is the earliest embryo of what would become the contemporary section of the city.
When this location was the mouth of an old canal connecting the Nile and Red Sea, it had strategic importance for the early communities that sprung up around it.
Although the river’s channel has shifted several hundred metres to the west, the original section of the river still contains historically significant monuments, many of which date back to the Greco-Roman period, when Egypt was converted to Christianity.
Settlements in the region date back to the early sixth century AD, according to archaeological findings. The canal that separated Upper and Lower Egypt was fortified by the Babylonians about the year 525 B.C.
It was on this location that the Romans later constructed a bigger stronghold that supported the development of additional structures still visible today. Bricks from the Roman fortification may still be seen from the Mar Girgis metro exit or the Mar Girgis street in Coptic Cairo, both of which have a distinct white and red hue.
Battle of the Conquest of Egypt: Amr Ibn Al Aas commanded an invading Muslim force that besieged this citadel.
There are several structures in Cairo’s old district that date back to the Christian and Muslim eras. The Ibn Al Aas mosque, the continent’s earliest mosque, and the Nilometro on Rhoda Island, Egypt’s first mosque, were both erected here in the most recent Islamic era.
There are more Christian churches and other historical sites in Coptic Cairo than anywhere else in the city, dating from Egypt’s time of Christian dominance between the demise of pharaonic religion and the rise of Islam. The majority of Coptic Cairo was constructed over the ruins of Babylon’s castle.
The Coptic Museum sits atop this bluff, guarding the world’s biggest collection of Coptic Christian artefacts. Coptic Christian artefacts from Egypt, Greece, Rome, Byzantine and Ottoman eras are on display in the museum, which was established in 1910 and opened to the public in 1911.
Since the early Christian period, there are additional six churches. The Church of the Virgin Mary, also known as the Suspended Church, was constructed in the ninth century above the Babylonian fort’s walls. Increases in ground level surrounding the walls have lessened the impact of this “suspension” greatly.
St. Sergius’ Church, which dates back to the 5th century and is likely erected on top of a crypt where the Holy Family (Jesus, Joseph, and Mary) sought sanctuary in Egypt, is one of several churches in Coptic Cairo.
Ben Ezra synagogue, Cairo’s oldest synagogue, was established in the 9th century and is claimed to have been the location where Moses was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter or the ancient temple of Jeremiah.