History of the Coptic Church

The Church of Alexandria is one of the oldest churches on earth – if not the oldest. Founded as early as the 1st century AD by St. Mark the Evangelist, it is the legitimate inherit of the ancient Egyptian civilization and did not only adopt the ancient Egyptian language (in form of Coptic) but also preserve and advanced the ancient traditions of painting, music, and architecture.

Therefore, visiting the nowadays Coptic Church and getting in close touch with its traditions and characteristic beliefs is to some extend a true experience of Ancient Egypt!

On the other hand, the Church of Alexandria had and has its great input on Christian history, faith and theologythroughout the centuries. Among its many great personalities are, just to mention a few, Athanasius the Great, Cyrill of Alexandria, St. Antony the Great and St. Paul the Hermit. Neither the Nicean Creed nor Christian monasticism would be in existence as they are today without the input of the Coptic Church and their popes, monks and theologians.

Itinerary

Day 1
Welcome to Egypt

Upon arrival at Cairo International Airport our representative will meet and assist you with passport control, customs formalities and handling your luggage. Afterwards, transfer to your hotel.

Day 2
Blessed be Egypt My People

Start your tour by discovering some of those places the Holy Family visited during the Flight to Egypt. Drive to Matariya and visit theTree of St. Mary which grew next to a spring Jesus had miraculously made for the Holy Family to drink from.

Then proceed to the old church of St. Mary in the alley of Zewilla in the heart of Islamic Cairo and after this visit St. Mary Church in downtown Cairo which is also known as El Ezbawia. Both churches hosted the holy family for short rests on their way to today’s Coptic Cairo.

After lunch, visit the church of St. Mary in Maadi. The traditions reports that the Holy Family boarded a boat from here to travel further south. Learn about the miracle of the “floating bible” and read chosen parts from the scriptures with the Old Testament’s prophecies about Egypt and from the Coptic Synexarium, the most detailed source of the Coptic tradition of the Flight into Egypt. Also, have a chance to pray and meditate.

Day 3
From St. Mark to Diocletian: Early Christianity in Egypt

Today, follow the traces of early Christianity in Egypt. Drive to Alexandria, which is officially the capital of Coptic Christianity! Visit St. Mark Cathedral which is, according to Coptic Tradition, built at the very site where the first pope of the Coptic Church after St. Mark the Evangelist, lived.

Furthermore, visit the catacombs of Kom El Shokafa and learn about the mix of Ancient Egyptian and Byzantine Christian burial customs. Also, stop at Pompey’s Pillar and the ruins of theSerapeum, once on the most celebrated worshipping sites of Antiquity.

Also, hear about the long heritage of martyrdom which is forming the foundation of the Coptic faith. Eventually, stop at the magnificent Bibliotheca Alexandria, the new library of the city and learn about the Alexandria School of Theology and its achievements on the scientific as well as theological level.

In the early evening, drive back to Cairo.

Day 4
Coptic Egypt: The Church and the Culture

In the morning, walk through the rich collection of the Coptic Museum, learn about the Coptic heritage and in the same time get a unique spiritual experience by looking at the numerous icons and pieces of tapestry deep into the richness of Coptic tradition.

Follow this with a visit to the Hanging Church one of the oldest and very typical Coptic churches. Learn about its history and get a chance to come up with questions which your Coptic Guide will be happy to answer. Later, visit St. Sergius Church (also known as the Holy Family Church) which is once again one of the oldest churches in the city.Get a chance to visit thecave where the Holy Family found shelter during their journey.

After lunch, visit the 6th century Ben Ezra Synagogue which was originally a church and proceed to the neighboring church of St. Barbara and the Coptic convent of St. George with its dazzling Pharaonic style doors and pleasant tranquility.

Day 5
Steps of the Desert Fathers

In the early morning, drive northwest to the 4th century monasteries of Wadi el-Natrun, the wilderness that witnessed the early desert fathers of the church and before them was blessed by St. Mary herself.

“From there, they went westward to Wadi El-Natrun, and St. Mary blessed the place, for her knowledge that many monasteries would be built there” (Coptic Synexarium).

Visit St. Marcarius Monastery named after the founder of monasticism in Wadi el-Natrun. Learn about Coptic monasticism and get a chance to read some of the wisdom of the early desert fathers. Afterwards, visit Anba Bishoy Monastery and have a chance to pray or meditate together in its 4th century church with is touching spiritual atmosphere.

Then visit St. Mary’s Monastery al-Syrian, enjoy its beautiful frescos from different ages and eventually complete your visit with a visit to St. Mary’s Monastery of Baramos, the oldest in the are of Wadi el-Natrun.

Day 6
The Coptic Church Today

Start your day visiting St. Mark’s Cathedral in Abbasia in Cairo and learn about the Coptic Church today from the formation of its synod to its today’s significant social rule.

Afterwards, pay a visit to the Mokatam Garbage City and the compound of St. Simeon Monastery. Learn about the traditional history of the Mokatam hill which is believed to have been moved to its present place in answer to prayers and hear about the leading rule of the church in the fragile society of the garbage collectors.

If you are interested, you may visit one of the various social charity projects run by the Coptic Church in cooperation with local community organizations (e.g. the recycling center, the orphanage, the institution for women empowerment or the school for mentally handicapped people).

In the late afternoon, enjoy a quiet felucca ride on the Nile for relaxing and a good chance for meditation and prayer.

Day 7
Departure

According to your flight time, private transfer to Cairo Airport for your return flight.

Tour Details

Including

All our tours are private tours including private transportation and private guiding.

  • Entrance Visa to Egypt (app. 12 €).
  • 6 nights stay in Cairo.
  • Accommodation in middle class hotels or church guesthouses.
  • All mentioned sightseeing tours and visits, including transportation by private modern & tourism-licensed a/c vehicles.
  • Professional faith oriented guiding by a qualified & tourism-licensed Coptic guide.
  • Extra time for prayer and meditation or group activities.
  • ITERU’s special travel services for church groups including scripture studies and additional lectures summarizing the visits and experiences.
  • Possibility to visit various social charity projects run by the Coptic Church.
  • Possibility to attend a Coptic Mass.
  • Studies of the Coptic Synexarium and historical background information.
  • Full board during the whole tour.
  • Recommended gratuities (app. 25 €).

Prices

All prices are inclusive of all mentioned services and valid throughout the year except major holidays during the high season. Please inquire for details.

 

  • Private tour, 1 to 2 people: Please inquire for individual pricing.
  • Private tour, 3 to 9 people: 810 €
  • Private tour, 10 to 20 people: 690 €
  • Private tour, 21 and more: Please inquire for individual pricing.

Customize Your Tour

Please feel free to provide us with your own ideas and preferences about your tour. Our travel professionals will be happy to tailor your personalized tour exactly as you want it to be!

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