In Photos: The Stunning Serenity of St. Samaan Church
It’s become something of a cliché – a sad one at that – but we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: there’s much more to Egypt than Ancient Egyptian antiquities. Granted, the Zabaleen area of Mokattam receives its fare share of attention for its sheer uniqueness, but one particular feature often goes unnoticed – St. Samaan Church.
The area of Mansheyet Nasser, or Zabaleen, was established in 1969, when the city’s zabaleen (trash collectors) were grouped together at the foot of Mokattam Hills by a decree
There, they built themselves basic living quarters and in 1974, carved out what is now St. Samaan Church in 1974 in the foot of the hill.
But the church wasn’t always in the form that it is today. It was initially built with steel and iron sheets. Its next phase of constructions years later added a brick building for celebrating religious holiday. It was when congregations began to grow week by week that it became the magnificent structure it is today.
The church is named after Samaan Al Kharaz (Simon the Ranner), who, according to the tradition, performed a miracle in moving the mountain to help Abraam – Pope of the Egyptian Church – prove his faith to a Jewish grand vizier.
The areas of the mountain around the church also feature a number of carvings.
These carvings were done by a Polish artist in 1995 and was commissioned by the church’s founder, Samaan Ibrahim.
In addition to the church itself – which can seat up to 1000 people – the monastery also include a library, children’s playground and a cafeteria.
Though it sits in the most unlikely of locations, St Samaan Church has become a hidden gem in Cairo and welcomes visitors and tourists with open arms.
You can find out more on the official St. Samaan Church website.
All photos by Ahmed Darwish