The local Coptic Church in Mokattam Village was established in 1975. After the establishment of the church, the Zabbaleen felt more secure in their location and only then began to use more permanent building materials, such as stone and bricks, for their homes. Given their previous experience of eviction from Giza in 1970, the Zabbaleen had lived in temporary tin huts up till that point. In 1976, a large fire broke out in Manshiyat Nasir, which led to the beginning of the construction of the first church below the Mokattam mountain on a site of 1,000 square meters.
More churches have been built into the caves found in Mokattam. Currently, there are seven cave churches hidden among the caves of Mokattam Mountain. The Monastery of St. Simon the Tanner is the largest and it has an amphitheater with a seating capacity of 20,000. This church is the largest church in the Middle East. It is named after the Coptic Saint, Simon the Tanner, who lived at the end of the 10th century, when Egypt was ruled by the Muslim FatimidCaliph Al-Muizz Lideenillah.
Simon the Tanner is the Coptic Saint who is associated with the legend of the moving of the Mokattam Mountain. Adjacent churches to the Monastery of St. Simon the Tanner include the St. Bola’s Church, St. Marks Church, and St. Simon the Tanner’s Hall. The cave churches of Mokattam are also a point of interest for many tourists visiting Cairo. Photos and video below…
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