One of the archaeological sites that many people may not know about, although it is located in the heart of Cairo, is the Monastery of Saint Simon, which is considered one of the most important and oldest ancient Egyptian monuments. It represents a rare and unparalleled architectural masterpiece and is a tourist attraction for Egyptians and foreigners from different countries of the world.
Egypt’s Largest Cave Church: The St. Simon Monastery
The St. Simon Monastery, commonly known as The Cave Church, is the biggest church not only in Egypt but also in the Middle East. It is located in the center of Mokattam Mountain in southeastern Cairo.
The history of Saint Simon Monastery dates back to the 1940s, when descendants of Upper Egyptian farmers began flocking to Cairo in search of a better life, fleeing the harsh conditions of poverty. These immigrants first continued their farming traditions of raising goats, chickens, pigs, and other animals until they discovered greater profit in collecting residents’ garbage, sorting it, and recovering valuable items to sell.
As this industry grew and prospered, larger groups and waves of individuals went to other regions of Cairo to investigate this new business and seek more profit. Around 1970, garbage collectors were expelled and relocated to one location after being dispersed over Cairo. As a consequence, this enormous community has finally settled under the Mokattam Mountain cliffs and begun to construct Zabbaleen City.
The majority of the community was Coptic, and they felt more safe in their new location, so they began erecting their church in 1975. After a major fire broke out nearby in 1976, the building of a monastery in the mountain’s center began.
This new initiative resulted in the Saint Simon Monastery. Simon the Tanner was a saint who lived in the 10th century. The monastery accommodates 2,000 people around a central pulpit. Other neighboring caverns have also been converted into distinct church areas, and they are all joined together to form a vast Christian complex in the middle of a garbage city.
Despite its non-touristy location, The Cave Church is one of Cairo’s top must-see sights that will captivate you.
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