The Hanging Church in Cairo – Keep Calm and Wander

Hanging Church

You might have heard of the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” but you’ve never heard of the Hanging Church in Cairo. The former was one of the 7 Wonders of the World, while the latter once the seat of papacy of the Orthodox Church. This tiny church is known for its apparitions where Mary appeared to Pope Abraham.

Why Hanging Church?

The Church is built over two Roman towers called Babylon Fortress. However today, you won’t be able to see much of the tower since the land surface has risen to some 6 meters. The towers were covered with logs of palm trees with layer of stones that served as the ground/foundation of the church.

To reach the church, you have to pass through 29 steps. Thus, it once earned the monicker as the ‘Staircase Church.”

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Citadel of Qaitbay – Keep Calm and Wander

Citadel of Qaitbay - Alain

Do you know that the Citadel of Qaitbay stands on the site where the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria once was? That lighthouse wasn’t just an ordinary structure to beacon seafarers but it’s one of the Wonders of the Ancient World. The tower was also the tallest structure in the world for many centuries. It was destroyed by three strong earthquakes between AD 956 to 1323. Today, parts of the ruins of the ancient lighthouse are scattered around the Citadel by the Mamluks.

It’s very easy to get to Qaitbay Citadel. Just go to the corniche and and look on your left. At a far distance, you’ll see the fort with a waving Egyptian flag. You can reach it on foot for 30 minutes. If walking isn’t your thing, flag down a white taxi van and tell the driver to drop you off at Citadel. Pay EGP5.

The fort can be best explored following this route I trod. And oh, these photos will give you a hint on capturing the best angle of the fort.

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Alexandria’s Modern Library – Keep Calm and Wander

Alexandria's Modern Library

The modern Library of Alexandria doesn’t really live up to its prestige in ancient times – when it comes to rare collections. There’s one surviving scroll from its ancient library in a city once ruled by Cleopatra and Alexander the Great. However, its architecture is brilliant, bold, modern and wonderfully executed. And oh boy, this is the only library in the world that I’ve been to where I paid to get in.

The new Library of Alexandria is built near where the ancient library was. Along the Mediterranean shore, the circular, glass-covered library beacons the same sea where Cleopatra first laid eyes on Julius Caesar.

The modern design commands knowledge and reflects boldness that complemented the sound of the waves that crash ashore.

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The Saqqara Pyramids – Keep Calm and Wander

Saqqara Pyramids

The Saqqara Pyramids in the City of the Dead are the burial grounds of Memphis, Egypt’s ancient capital. This place is also known and spelled as Sakkara or Saccara. Unlike the Great Pyramids of Giza, the ones you see here are smaller but older than the former.

Off-the-beaten track

While tourists mostly flock to the three great pyramids, only few come here for a visit. There was only one big tour bus I saw in my two hours of exploration here. Most of the visitors were on private tours, like me.

How much to get here?

I hired a driver to get me here because I didn’t want to be with a huge group. I paid around $30. He took me here first and then to Dashur where the Red Pyramid, the world’s first true pyramid, is located. The whole trip lasted 5 hours.

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Pompey’s Pillar, An Open Museum in Alexandria – Keep Calm and Wander

Pompey's Pillar - Alain

Pompey’s Pillar is an open museum in Alexandria. This pillar wasn’t really built for Pompey, a Roman politician and military general. He was also Julius Caesar’s fiercest rival and mortal enemy in the civil war.

This monolithic column was built to commemorate the triumph of the Roman Emperor Diocletian over a revolt in Alexandria. And now, you’d ask: How in the world this shaft became known as Pompey’s Pillar?

It’s known in the Middle Ages that a bronze urn on top of the pillar contained the ashes of Pompey. This corinthian column is standing on blocks that comes from earlier foundations. It’s cut from red granite in Aswan in the southern part of Egypt.

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Amazing Alexandria Murals – Keep Calm and Wander

Alexandria Murals

I was walking around for two hours until I saw these murals in Alexandria. It’s one of those moments when I allowed my myself to get lost around a new city. And when I can’t figure out, I’d hail a cab to bring me somewhere to satisfy my stomach.

These Alexandria Murals depict arts in all forms. I tried to find the artist’s name somewhere in these murals but didn’t spot it. If you know who did this amazing work, let me know so I can properly acknowledge him.

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The Grand Al Mursi Mosque – Keep Calm and Wander

Al Mursi Mosque

The grand Al Mursi Mosque in Alexandria is devoted to a great Sufi Saint Abul Abbas al-Mursi. In fact, his body is laid here. This is a very historical mosque where both males and females can go in and worship but separately.

I wasn’t planning to visit this place but I got lost looking for the Catacomb of El Shoqafa. I asked people around the area but no one could really direct me where the Catacomb was. My google map was useless but it pointed me to the area around this mosque. After going and asking around, I gave up.

Of all the mosques I’ve seen in Alexandria, Al Mursi Mosque is the most beautiful.

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Mediterranean Sunset in Alexandria – Keep Calm and Wander

Alexandria - Keep Calm and Wander

Mediterranean sunset in Alexandria is, oh boy, breathtaking. While I was in Alexandria last month, a local couchsurfer (Thanks, Abdulazziz!) brought me to Montaza Palace Gardens. This park is huge and there were only few people when we were there. Its lush green, well-manicured gardens are good for an afternoon walk or picnic. This is a great place to escape from the crazy, busy streets of Alexandria. When the weather gets too hot, this is your cool refuge.

The best place to watch the sunset here is by going to the red, Victorian-styled bridge. The setting sun is right in front of you and it makes a perfect backdrop for the old light house.

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The Red Pyramid – Keep Calm and Wander

Red Pyramid

This is what you see inside the Red Pyramid in Egypt. It is said to be the world’s oldest true pyramids. This is located at Dahshur, 20 kilometres away from the famous trio of Pyramids in Giza. Don’t be fooled by its name though. The whole facade of the pyramid has nothing red on it. It derives its monicker from the red limestones that you’ll see when inside.

Be also aware that going inside the Red Pyramid is not for those with weak bones. You’ll be going down on a 63-meter tunnel with your back hunched all the time. If you’re claustrophobic, don’t even dare to try.

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Montaza Palace Gardens, Alexandria, Egypt – Keep Calm and Wander

Montaza Palace Gardens - Alain

Montaza Palace Gardens is your beautiful refuge from the heat in Alexandria. Though it can be chilly in winter, it is still an ideal place to watch the Mediterranean sunset. A walk in this huge park should be relaxing, while admiring the well-tended gardens. You’ll never run out of shades and verdant lush in here.

Despite the greenery though, the true standout beauty here is the Al-Haramlik Palace. If you want to spend a night inside this park, El-Salamlek Palace is a perfect hotel to splurge on. It’s a beautiful palace but sans a romantic story attached to it.

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