Thursday, November 5, 2009

Egypt (Day Three)

Day Three - Cairo
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Today we hired our driver again and he took us to some of the sites in Cairo that are relatively new . . . less than two thousands year old.

This is the City of the Dead. It is a four mile long area of Cairo that is formally known as the Northern Cemetery. Traditionally, Egyptians built small house-like mausoleums for their loved ones where they could stay during the 40 day mourning process. Also, when they came to visit the dead, it gave them a place to hang out. The City of the Dead is filled with these small houses. Today, the area is filled with thousands of homeless people who have moved in and live with the dead. They have even set up markets and coffee shops amongst the tombs.

This is a view inside one of the mausoleums. If you look behind the bars, you can see the tomb.

Next, we went to the Citadel. The history of this area goes back to the year 810 A.D. and has had many uses. The position of the Citadel, on a hill overlooking the city, made it a great location for military defense and was even used to defend against the Crusaders.

Many different mosques have stood within the walls of the Citadel. Today, the Mohammad Ali’s Mosque dominates the site and is quite stunning.

The inside of the mosque is beautiful and unique.

The view from the Citadel is supposed to include the pyramids, but the pollution in Cairo is so horrible that there is no chance of seeing that far. You can smell and taste the pollution all day long.

We then went to Coptic Cairo which has had Christian roots since about the 3rd century A.D. This is the Hanging Church. It was probably built in the 8th century, but stands on the same spot as a church built in the 3rd century.

Near the Hanging Church is a Christian cemetery. It really should be in a scary movie. Seriously, I'm sure at night this place has dead people walking around everywhere!
Another view of the city on a clear day.

That night, we got on the sleeping train that took us on a 12 hour trip to Luxor.

This is our little room on the sleeping train. If you've ever ridden on a train in Europe, this train isn't anything like that! This thing rocked and rumbled down the track. Occasionally it would just slam on the brakes. I was sure we were going to hit another train. Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep that night.

3 comments:

Cheryl and William said...

That mosque looks so beautiful! And I can't even begin to tell you just how JEALOUS I am of you guys for going to Egypt. I've been trying to convince William to go for YEARS. I need to talk with you both sometime more in depth about it. And I LOVED the pyramid photos.

Kristin said...

AMAZING!

Brooke & Mike said...

WOW. AMAZING. I am so jealous, was this just a fun trip? We need to get together soon.