Alexandria was once one of the major seats of the Roman Empire and many beautiful Coptic monuments record the great triumphs of those years of glory.
Many places are named in honour of the Virgin Mary, but the Virgin’s tree is one of very few to have been visited by Mary herself with young Jesus by her side.
They’re thought to have taken shelter beneath the tree’s bowed branches, refreshing themselves from the same spring that waters its old roots.
Saint Catherine’s Monastery
It was at the top of Mt Sinai that Moses received the ten commandments from God. At its base, besides what is rumoured to be the burning bush of biblical fame, is the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Saint Catherine.
The monastery was named after an early Christian martyr from Alexandria and the Emperor Justinian had a basilica built to house her recovered remains many centuries later. Today, the church is lined with spectacularly ornate icons and scriptural paintings. Its monastery museum is home to the world’s second largest collection of illuminated manuscripts in Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Coptic and Georgian.
The Coptic Museum (Old Cairo)
Just approaching it’s first century, the Coptic Museum in Cairo is a treasure trove of relics from Egypt’s early Christians, where you can find : scraps of painted textiles, manuscripts and icons, frescoes and carvings in wood, ivory, glass and stone.
Behind its understated scallop-shell archways, the 13 halls of the old wing are currently undergoing a massive face-lift. However, the 17 halls of the new wing house the bulk of the exhibits and an enclosed garden.
Other Famous Coptic Monuments in Old Cairo
Church of Abu Serga (St Sergius)
Built on the site where the Holy Family is said to have taken refuge on the flight into Egypt.
Church of St Barbara
The church supposedly holds the relics of the saint.