Saint Simon Monastery: A Deeper Look Into Egypt’s Massive Cave Church

BY

-

Mon, 21 Dec 2020 - 01:08 GMT

BY

Mon, 21 Dec 2020 - 01:08 GMT

Photo Credit: Khaled ElAdawy for Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Khaled ElAdawy for Shutterstock

Nestled at the heart of Mokattam Mountain in southeastern Cairo, St. Simon Monastery, also known as The Cave Church, is the largest church not only in Egypt but also in the Middle East. The Cave Church is located in an area known as the Zabbaleen city, meaning literally ‘garbage city’.  This city has the largest population of garbage collectors and recyclers in Cairo.

Photo credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstuck
Photo credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstuck
Photo Credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstock
Photo Credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstock

The story goes back to the 40s when descendants of farmers of Upper Egypt started migrating to Cairo fleeing the tough conditions of poverty and seeking a shift. These immigrants initially followed their farming traditions of raising goats, chickens, pigs, and other animals until they found more profit in collecting the waste of the residents, sorting it out, and salvaging things of value to be sold.

As this business has progressed and done well, more groups and larger waves of people moved to different parts of Cairo to explore this new business and seek more profit. Around 1970 as garbage collectors were scattered in different parts of Cairo, they were evicted and moved together to one city. As a result, this large community has finally settled under the cliffs of Mokattam Mountain and started establishing Zabbaleen City.

Photo Credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstock
Photo Credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstock
 
The community being majorly Coptic and having felt more secure in their new location, they began establishing their church in 1975. After a massive fire that broke out nearby in 1976, construction began to build a monastery at the heart of the mountain.
 
shutterstock_541661074-min
Photo Credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstock
 
Known as the cave church, St, Simon ‘The Tanner' Monastery is a masterpiece with impressive paintings and stories carved on the wall and into the mountain rocks, in addition to sculptured statues of Virgin Mary, and Mary Magdalene. The monastery can accommodate up to 20,000 people which makes it the largest among other churches built inside the caves of Mokattam and even in the Middle East.
Photo Credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstock
Photo Credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstock

The Cave church was built in commemoration of St. Simon who lived towards the end of the 10th century during the rule of Fatimid Caliph Al-Mui’zz. St. Simon worked in tanning which is a well-known craft to this very day.

Photo Credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstock
Photo Credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstock
 
Though located at a non-touristy site, The Cave Church is among the top must-see attractions in Cairo that is bound to mesmerize you.
 
Photo Credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstock
Photo Credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstock
shutterstock_786637663-min
Photo Credit Khaled Eladawy for Shutterstock

 

Comments

0

Leave a Comment

Be Social