The Old City part of Cairo, also known as Heliopolis or On, has been around from the time of Joseph and is built on the main road connecting Egypt with Palestine. This is the place where many Jews would have fled in the Babylonian conquest, and logically this is the part of Egypt where Joseph and Mary would have come to flee the wrath of King Herod. Two of the places we visited in the Old City were the Jewish Synagogue and the Abu Serga Church. The synagogue in the Old City is where the Geniza documents were discovered. They were the oldest copies of the Hebrew Bible until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Abu Serga Church is the oldest (or second oldest) Coptic church in Egypt, and according to the Coptic tradition is built directly over the place where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus lived for a couple years when they fled to Egypt. It is very possible, but I have never been one to put much stock in the place. It was still cool, though, because this is the first place we have vis…
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This is one of the more impressive "modern" structures I saw in Egypt, dating back to 1815. This mosque was built in honor of Muhammad Ali and is constructed entirely out of alabaster, hence the name... The design is based off the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, except way smaller. It's actually built inside an ancient citadel built by Salahadin in 1187 on the only road leading from Canaan to Egypt. The mosque is no longer used as a place of worship or prayer, its main function is a monument, actually, to Muhammad Ali (not the boxer), a man who liberated Egypt from the oppressive Ottoman Empire and was crowned King of Egypt in 1840. His tomb is inside the mosque and thousands of Musilms make a pilgrimage to this mosque in Cairo to pay homage to one of the greatest Islamic leaders ever. There is also a monument to Muhammad Ali in Kavala, Greece, in honor of the help he and his army provided to Greece against the Ottoman Empire.