Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Tour Through Coptic Cairo

Slowly, I stroll through the dusty, crooked streets of the birthplace of Egyptian Christianity. Churches and convents line both sides of the streets. I wander into a church and am greeted by an ornate interior of gold and ivory. An old man is at its altar, lighting candles. I leave him alone and return to the street...

No visit to Cairo is complete without a trip through the ancient walled city of Coptic Cairo. Step off of the Metro at the Mari Girgis Station and cross beneath the archway of the citadel. There, you'll pay a small entrance fee for access to the entire walled city.

Near the entrance to the city are the Church of St. George, the Coptic Museum and the Church of St. Sergius. You'll also see the Roman tower on your right hand side before swinging around toward the Convent of St. George. Because some of these old buildings are still actively used by Cairo's Coptic community, you may see visitors lighting candles or praying. Otherwise, you are free to wander in and out and take photos.

The Coptic Museum is a must-see, featuring art from early Christianity throughout Egypt and the Near East. At the Convent of St George, one can be wrapped in chains like the saint himself.

At the far end of the main street, past the Ben Ezra Synagogue and the Church of St Barbara, are two enormous cemeteries. Historically Greek Catholic and Greek Orthodox, you'll find headstones in a myriad of languages. Some of these are quite ancient and others fairly new. Some are quite modest, others very elaborate. Readers of The Vesuvius Isotope should look for the headstone of Selena Zenobi.

Back near the entrance to the citadel, follow the road along the wall of the citadel to the Hanging Church. Named for nothing that has to do with hanging people, this church is one of the most ornate in the city. Read more about it here.

Follow the trail of the holy journey through Egypt, from Upper Egypt all the way north to Alexandria and across the Sinai peninsula.

Protagonist Katrina Stone races through Coptic Cairo on her quest to solve Cleopatra's last riddle in The Vesuvius Isotope, a novel by Kristen Elise. Purchase The Vesuvius Isotope here.

For more about traveling alone through Coptic Cairo, click here. For more about traveling alone through Egypt, visit

This blog post explores a non-fictional theme or locale that is incorporated in The Vesuvius Isotope, the first Katrina Stone novel. Buy The Vesuvius Isotope in print or ebook.

From the ancient ruins beneath Mount Vesuvius, a two-thousand-year-old document has emerged. It is the only text ever attributed to the ambitious, inquisitive, and cryptic last pharaoh of Egypt...

When her Nobel laureate husband is murdered, biologist Katrina Stone can no longer ignore the secrecy that has increasingly pervaded his recent behavior. Her search for answers leads to a two-thousand-year-old medical mystery and the life of one of history’s most enigmatic women. Following the trail forged by her late husband, Katrina must separate truth from legend as she chases medicine from ancient Italy and Egypt to a clandestine modern-day war. Her quest will reveal a legacy of greed and murder and resurrect an ancient plague into the twenty-first century.

Kristen Elise, Ph.D. is a drug discovery biologist and the author of The Vesuvius Isotope and The Death Row Complex. She lives in San Diego, California. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience. Egypt is a very wonderful and safety place. I had visited Egypt through a well –known travel agency. That trip was wonderful and adventurous for me; I visited temples, monuments, pyramids, Mostly Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, and South Sinai are also a very beautiful place I enjoyed all those things in an affordable Egypt travel package. Keep blogging like this.