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In the center of Cairo there is an area guarded by troops, which is called "Old Cairo" (Misr el Kadima) and it is Egypt's Christian bastion. There are many historical Christian churches in this area, the oldest of which is the Saints Sergius and Bacchus church. There is a cave in the basement of this church, which is called the Family Crypt. According to a very widespread belief in Egypt, Joseph, Mary and newborn Jesus were hidden in this cave, in order to save the Divine Infant from the massacre of the innocents ordered by Herod.
It is a place of utmost sanctity and therefore is very difficult for someone to enter. A chaperone is required and the visitor must wear modest clothes and remove his shoes.
The Christians of Egypt passionately protect their sacred pilgrimages, within an unpredictable Islamic environment.
Our Greek origin became once more the passport of our entry for a religious pilgrimage in Egypt, not only Christian but Islamic too, as Muslim Egyptians like the Greeks very much.
The church is dedicated to Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus, two Syrian soldiers of the Roman army, who martyred for their faith during the 4th century.
It is the oldest building of "Coptic Cairo", as "Old Cairo" is also known, and its foundation dates back to the 7th century.
The church is a basilica and it has been reconstructed several times, while the current building dates back to the 11th century.
The icons on the church's walls are from the 13th century, as is its woodcut temple. Signs hang on its columns with the phrase "Christ is Risen" written in Greek.
Around the church Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus there are underground passages and narrow alleys, leading to churches, cemeteries and Roman forts.
It is a world old labyrinth making Cairo, this vast, unforgettable and exciting city, look even more imposing.
TEXT-PHOTOS: GEORGE ZAFEIROPOULOS