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The Cave Church

Experience spiritual wonder at The Cave Church. Delve into the sacred depths of this remarkable Christian sanctuary carved into the Egyptian mountains.

Cave Church of Samaan Al Kharraz - Egypt Tours Portal
Overview
The Cave Church
Location Mokattam Mountain, Cairo
Building Date 10th Century
Purpose Coptic Christian Place of Worship
Unique Feature Carved into the Mountain
Capacity 20,000

Summary

  • Location: The Cave Church is situated at the top of the Moqattam Mountain in Zabbaleen City, also known as "The City of Garbage," on the east bank of the Nile River in Cairo, Egypt.
  • Name Origin: The church is named after Simon the Tanner, a Coptic saint who lived in the 10th century AD and is associated with the moving of the Mokattam Mountain by order of the Islamic Fatimid Caliph Al Muizz.
  • Historical Significance: The history of the Cave Church dates back to the time of the Holy Family's journey in Egypt, and it was constructed in the 10th century AD during the rule of Caliph Al Muizz. The area was settled by descendants of farmers who migrated to Cairo in the 1940s.
  • Carvings and Art: The Cave Church is a remarkable piece of art, adorned with sculptures and carvings that depict biblical stories, including the birth of Jesus, the resurrection of Lazarus, the story of Zuleikha and Joseph, and more.
  • Monumental Size: This church is one of the largest in Egypt, the Middle East, and the world, with a seating capacity of 20,000, making it a significant religious and historical landmark.

The Cave Church of Saint Simon the Tanner or the monastery of Samaan Al Kharraz is a miraculous monument found in the womb of divine mountains acting as a holy book made of stone showcasing the power of the faith that can move the strongest mountains.

It is one of the biggest churches in Egypt, the Middle East, and the world able to shed some light on a holy display of allure made by the strength of belief, carved in the core of the deepest part of Cairo city. In the heart of this magnificent monument are the immortal tales and history of some of the most incredible miracles and honorable men of faith the world has ever seen.

The Location of Cave Church

Some may wonder, where is the Cave Church located, and the answer is, that the Cave church is found at the very top of the Mountain of Moqattam in an area known as Zabbaleen City "The City of Garbage" on the east bank of the Nile River which has the biggest population of garbage collectors and recyclers in all of Cairo.

It contains six churches that are carved directly into the rocky core of the mountain. Next to the Monastery of St. Simon the Tanner are a number of churches which are St. Paul’s Church, St. Mark’s Church, and St. Simon the Tanner's Hall.

The Name of the Cave Church

Name of the Cave Church - Egypt Tours Portal
Name of the Cave Church - Egypt Tours Portal

The name of cave church was named after Simon the Tanner the Coptic saint who lived in the 10th century AD under the rule of Al Muizz the Islamic Fatimid Caliph who was connected to the moving of the Mokattam Mountain. 

The story goes that Al Muizz ordered the Coptic Pope Abraham of Alexandria to move Moqattam Mountain as a test of his faith so he fasted for three whole days and then fainted when the virgin Mary informed him of a man who could move the mountain called Simon the Tanner who had two jobs, the first the shoe repairman and a water distributor to the poor. 

He moved the mountain from the area of Ramses after the transfer was complete Saint Samaan disappeared through one of the mountain Caves then a monastery was constructed in the same place.

The History of the Cave Church

History of the Cave Church - Egypt Tours Portal
History of the Cave Church - Egypt Tours Portal

The history of the monastery of Saint Simon the Tanner dates back to the times of the holy family who hid in this location during their three-year journey in Egypt. It was constructed in the commemoration and memory of Saint Simon in the 10th century AD during the reign of Al Muizz the Fatimid Caliph.

The Zabbaleen City was created by the descendants of farmers who migrated in the 1940s AD from Upper Egypt to Cairo due to poverty and to avoid the municipal authorities but as they became city inhibitors, they didn’t forget their traditions of animals like chickens, ducks, goats, and more. The new city immigrants started salvaging anything that had any sense of value plus all the organic matters acted as food for their animals. As a result of this harmonious arrangement, many immigrants across the years took the place as their new home.

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90% of all the residents in the Zabbaleen are Coptic. And a local church was built in 1975 and in 1976 a fire broke and many constructions were destroyed. In the same year, a decision was made 1000 squ m under the Mokattam Mountain into its cave which became known as the Monastery of St. Simon the Tanner which possesses 20,000 seats and makes it the biggest church in the Middle East.

The Carving in the Cave Church

Carving in the Cave Church - Egypt Tours Portal
Carving in the Cave Church - Egypt Tours Portal

The church is a true piece of art conveying a number of marvelous sculptured statues of Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary. The church holds a number of incredible stories carved into the mountain rocks which tell the birth story of Jesus.

There are carvings that tell the story of the Lazarus miracle of resurrection by Jesus. A number of biblical verses are carved across the walls of the church. There is also the carved story of Zuleikha and Joseph plus the story of Potiphar’s wife. The walls of the church hold the story of the legendary Samson.

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Explore this holy site and witness its incredible art by witnessing and listening to the greatest tales about holy figures who moved mountains and reshaped the world.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Story Of The Cave Church In Cairo?

In the picturesque Mokattam Mountain area of Cairo, Egypt, stands the Cave Church, also known as the Monastery of Saint Simon the Tanner. Despite its name, it's not just a cave but a complex of intricately carved churches and chapels. The story behind it takes us back to the 10th century when a devoted Coptic Christian named Simon, a tanner by trade, heard the voice of Christ calling him to move the mountain. With unwavering faith, Simon approached the Islamic governor, Al-Muizz, who, thinking him mad, granted permission. Miraculously, Simon's faith moved a part of the mountain, converting many, including the governor's son, to Christianity. In gratitude, Al-Muizz allowed Simon to carve this remarkable church and monastery. Over time, it expanded to include multiple chapels, seating thousands, and even an amphitheater-like space. Today, the Cave Church is a significant Christian worship site in the Middle East and a popular pilgrimage destination for both Coptic Christians and tourists.

How Old Is The Cave Church In Cairo?

The Cave Church in Cairo aka the Monastery of Saint Simon the Tanner, has a history that dates back to the 10th century. It is believed to have been established around the 10th or 11th century thus making it over a thousand years old. This remarkable complex of churches and chapels carved into the cliffs of the Mokattam Mountain has been a significant religious and pilgrimage site for Coptic Christians for centuries.

What Are the Finest Destinations to Visit in Egypt?

The entire country of Egypt deserve to be explored with its every heavenly detail but there are places that must be seen before any other such as the breathtaking Hurghada's red sea, The wonders of Cairo the pyramids of Giza, the great sphinx, the Egyptian Museum, Khan El Khalili Bazaar, the wonders of Luxor like Valley of the Kings, Karnak & Hatshepsut temple and the wonders of Aswan such as Abu Simbel temples, Philea temple, Unfinished obelisk and The Wonders of Alexandria like Qaitbat Citadel, Pompey's Pillar and Alexandria Library. Read more about the best places to visit in Egypt.

What Are Egypt's Visa Requirements?

If you want to apply for a Visa On Arrival that lasts for 30 days then you should be one of the eligible countries, have a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining and pay 25$ USD in cash, as for the E-Visa for 30 day you should have a valid passport for at least 8 months, complete the online application, pay the e-visa fee then print the e-visa to later be presented to the airport border guard. You could also be one of the lucky ones who can obtain a free visa for 90 days. Read more about Egypt travel visa.

What Is the Top Traditional Egyptian Food?

Egypt has a variety of delicious cuisines but we recommend “Ful & Ta’meya (Fava Beans and Falafel)”, Mulukhiya, “Koshary”, a traditional Egyptian pasta dish, and Kebab & Kofta, the Egyptian traditional meat dish.

What is the Best Time to Visit Egypt?

The best time to travel to Egypt is during the winter from September to April as the climate becomes a little tropical accompanied by a magical atmosphere of warm weather with a winter breeze. You will be notified in the week of your trip if the Climate is unsafe and if any changes have been made.

What to Pack for Your Egypt Tour?

You should pack everything you could ever need in a small bag so you could move easily between your destinations.

Why Book With "Egypt Tours Portal"?

We have been creating the finest vacations for more than 20 years around the most majestic destinations in Egypt. Our staff consists of the best operators, guides and drivers who dedicate all of their time & effort to make you have the perfect vacation. All of our tours are customized by Travel, Financial & Time consultants to fit your every possible need during your vacation. It doesn't go without saying that your safety and comfort are our main priority and all of our resources will be directed to provide the finest atmosphere until you return home.

Is it Safe to Travel to Egypt?

You will feel safe in Egypt as the current atmosphere of the country is quite peaceful after the government took powerful measures like restructuring the entire tourist police to include all the important and tourist attractions in Egypt. Read more about is it safe to travel to Egypt.

What to Wear While in Egypt?

Wear whatever feels right and comfortable. It is advised to wear something light and comfortable footwear like a closed-toe shoe to sustain the terrain of Egypt. Put on sun block during your time in Egypt in the summer to protect yourself from the sun.

What are the Best Activities to Do in Egypt?

The best activity is by far boarding a Nile Cruise between Luxor and Aswan or Vise Versa. Witness the beauty of Egypt from a hot balloon or a plane and try all the delicious Egyptian cuisines and drinks plus shopping in old Cairo. Explore the allure and wonders of the red sea in the magical city resorts of Egypt like Hurghada and many more by diving and snorkeling in the marine life or Hurghada. Behold the mesmerizing western desert by a safari trip under the heavenly Egyptian skies.

What are Egypt Festival and Public Holidays?

There are a lot of public holidays in Egypt too many to count either religious or nation, the most important festivals are the holy month of Ramadan which ends with Eid Al Fitr, Christmas and new years eve. Read more about festivals & publich holidays in Egypt.

What are Special Advice for Foreign Women in Egypt?

Egypt is considered to be one of the most liberal Islamic countries but it has become a little bit conservative in the last couple of decades so it is advised to avoid showing your chest, shoulders or legs below the knees.

What are the Official Languages of Egypt?

Arabic is the official language and Most Egyptians, who live in the cities, speak or understand English or at least some English words or phrases. Fewer Egyptians can speak French, Italian, Spanish, and German. Professional tour guides, who work in the tourism sector, are equipped to handle visitors who cannot speak Arabic and they will speak enough English and other languages to fulfill the needs of all our clients.

What is the Transportation in Egypt?

The fastest way is a car, of course, a taxi. If you are in Cairo ride a white taxi to move faster or you could board the fastest way of transportation in Egypt metro if the roads are in rush hour.

What is the Weather is Like?

The temperature in Egypt ranges from 37c to 14 c. Summer in Egypt is somehow hot but sometimes it becomes cold at night and winter is cool and mild. The average of low temperatures vary from 9.5 °C in the wintertime to 23 °C in the summertime and the average high temperatures vary from 17 °C in the wintertime to 32 °C in the summertime. The temperature is moderate all along the coasts.

What are the Reasons That Make You Visit Egypt?

It is the home of everything a traveler might be looking for from amazing historical sites dating to more than 4000 years to enchanting city resorts & beaches. You will live the vacation you deserve as Egypt has everything you could possibly imagine.

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