we are going on what is billed as a spiritual tour where we visit the
oldest section of the city where some of the old churches of
Cairo are, including the landmark Citadel. Egypt is
ninety percent Muslim and about ten percent Coptic Christian, with a
small scattering of other religions. We visit a very old Christian
church, a synagogue and a mosque.
All the religious institutions of Old Cairo are ornate. The synagogue
is no longer used but maintained for historical reasons and for
tourists to visit. We are not allowed to take photos inside. Many
places, such as tombs and museums, do not allow photography as the
flash of cameras can fade delicate paint and damage surfaces over
beautiful and ornate Citadel goes back to medieval times and is where
the Muhammad Ali mosque is located. We learn a bit
about Muslim beliefs, which are very strict. There
is a “call to prayer” while we are at the mosque, which is a loud,
chanted prayer sung by a mosque leader.
all have to remove our shoes to go inside, but women’s heads do not
have to be covered in the mosque. There are no
benches inside, and the floor is covered with rugs for worshipers to
kneel on. Muslims are expected to pray five times a day for 10 to 15
minutes. Men go to a mosque, if possible, but it is
acceptable to pray in any clean place.
and life in general have adjusted to this religious lifestyle and a
place to pray is provided at most workplaces. Muslims
kneel on the floor to pray and place the forehead on the floor. Some men have brown spots on their forehead made by frequent
praying. We noticed a green arrow on the ceiling of our hotel and
wondered what it was until we finally figured out it was pointing to
Mecca where Muslims face to pray.
and men pray in separate areas of the mosque, which we are told is for
the protection of women and to prevent them from being accidentally
touched by men while people are kneeling in a crowded mosque. While Egyptian women seem to be making gains in other areas of
life, religion appears to me to still be a very male-dominated part of
next morning is spent visiting the Cairo Museum where most of the
artifacts from the pyramids are displayed. While
the museum is interesting, it is obviously old and outdated. They are currently building a new museum closer to the pyramids
which will house some of the numerous exhibits that are now in
storage. There is not nearly enough space to
display all the artifacts of Egypt and the tired old museum is rather
sad to see after having seen the impressive exhibits of Egyptian
artifacts in the British Museum several years ago.
are numerous large statues of black granite as well as the King Tut
display, which takes half of the second floor. The
gold funeral mask of Tut is large and impressive and looks just like
the pictures and numerous reproductions, except
this is the real thing. Many of the coffins and
boxes in which Tut was buried are gilded with gold. The jewelry is
beautiful in design and the pieces are numerous beyond imagination.
“No one could wear this much jewelry,” I told my sister.
“It isn’t meant to be worn in this life,” she replied.
was not an important king as Egyptian kings go, but his tomb is
important because it was never discovered or desecrated by tomb
robbers before modern times. By today’s standards the gold from
Tut’s tomb is worth millions of dollars, but in historic terms the
value cannot be measured we are told.
this is all very interesting, my feet are suffering from the hard
marble floors and I will have a severe case of aching museum feet