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Cave Church (St. Simon the Tanner Monastery)
Cave Church (St. Simon the Tanner Monastery)

Cave Church (St. Simon the Tanner Monastery)

Free admission
Mokattam Mountain, Qism El­-Khalifa, Cairo, Egypt

The Basics

In Cairo’s Garbage City (Manshiyat Naser), the approach to the Cave Church is a pungent experience, with garbage collectors sifting Cairo’s unsorted waste for recyclable and reusable goods. Yet with space for around 17,000 worshippers, the scale of one of the largest churches in the Middle East impresses—as do the smaller cave churches around it, one of which houses what pilgrims believe is the body of St. Simon.

Many travelers feel most comfortable booking a private guide or joining a tour, to avoid navigating the warren of narrow streets on their own or trying to figure out public transit. Some tours stop by the Cave Church along with much older Coptic churches, such as the Hanging Church or the Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus; other excursions delve deep into Zabbaleen lifestyles, with home visits or recycling factory tours.

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Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
$25.00 per adult
Traveler Favorite
Tour guide was great and informative.
It was very cool to see the extensive history of the churches. Impact of multiple civilizations. And the journey just to get to the Cave Church was fascinating and illuminating.
Scott_K, Oct 2021

Recent reviews from experiences in Cairo

star-5
Must see!
Jon_H, Jul 2021
Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
It was fascinating to learn so much about the history of christianity in Egypt. Essam was a fantastic, friendly guide. Thank you!
star-5
Do not miss this!
Jerry_R, Jul 2021
Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
Wow! What a great job by Mazen to tell us all the stories and illustrations of these places. It was a very special day that we will never forget.
star-5
Interesting trip
Mamdouh_A, Jun 2021
Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
It was a nice trip with our guide Essam. He is very kind and told much interesting informations about the places what we visited. Agam, the driver is also a great man.
star-5
Coptic churches
bgugiu, Feb 2020
Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
Yasser took us to the Coptic cave churches and some Old churches of apocryphal fame. Interesting and enjoyable. On the way you will see Cairo’s garbage neighborhood, where the recycling takes place.
star-5
COPTIC CIRO
Angie_L, Jan 2020
Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
Fabulous tour, the cave churches were unbelievably beautiful . Our guide was friendly and informative.
star-5
Coptic churches.
Divakaran_A, Nov 2019
Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
Pick up was on time and the guide very knowledgeable. He provided us with good information about the churches we visited.
star-5
Church Tour
WAYNE_H, Nov 2019
Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
Car and tour leader on time. Very Informational. Also, very safe. They had armed guards at all the tourist locations.
star-5
Coptic Church - Cairo
Sunshine828656, Apr 2019
Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
Sayed did a fantastic job for this tour. I would highly recommend. Very thoughtful and took a lot of time to explain. Wonderful tour guide!! The churches were amazing into the caves and all the carvings.
star-5
Lots of Learning!
Sarah_P, Feb 2021
Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
The tour was great, our guide and driver Ehab Hoba and Khaled were knowledgeable and nice. The garbage City and cave church was a must, seeing a different part of Egypt was interesting and made me see things differently. We requested to stop at the Mohammed Ali castle and mosque as well because we saw it and asked about it so the guide called his boss and within 10 min he had arranged it as a tour add in and took us through a really nice tour of that as well! The hanging church was very different from the cave church and mosque and we appreciated seeing such a diversity and learning so many different things. The food with lunch was amazing and even though snacks were provided, save room for the lunch! I highly recommend the fresh guava juice if you see it. Overall we learned a lot and got a lot out of this tour and we would do it again
star-5
A tour away from the usual
Amanda_P, Mar 2020
Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
We were in Cairo at the start of a group tour and looked for something a bit out of the way. Found this tour as something different from the usual Cairo activities (pyramids, Sphinx, Egyptian Museum) and booked it. Pickup from hotel - slight hiccup because our hotel has 2 lobbies and we waited at the wrong one - but there we meet our guide Abdul. This was a private tour and Abdul was very knowledgeable about the subject matter and also accommodating to what we wanted to do. The garbage city is interesting and the rock church is amazing. These are places that are not usually on the tour radar. The rest of the tour included the Coptic churches and we concluded the tour with lunch that was typically Egyptian and we enjoyed it. Overall thoroughly recommend this tour.
star-4
Natural churches
David_M, Mar 2020
Coptic Cairo Tour: Cave Church of Saint Simon and Old Cairo churches
The cave church is really a natural grotto that exists in the middle of the city of Cairo. To get to it, you pass through 'garbage city' where the residents sort through everyone else's garbage to reclaim recyclables and anything else useful. It's a valuable service but it's a sad way to make a living and even sadder to see children playing in a garbage dump. The legend surrounding the cave church involves a mountain being moved in a miracle. There are actually two churches, the afore mentioned grotto church is the 'summer' church and there is an actual underground 'winter' church as well. Both having interesting art and histories and are worth seeing. My guide Nova did an excellent job explaining it all to me. Lunch buffet provided at a local restaurant was simply OK.

Things to Know Before You Go

  • The Cave Church is a good choice for Christians, anyone interested in environmental issues, and fans of the bizarre.

  • The church is a place of worship in conservative Cairo. Be sure to dress and behave respectfully.

  • Always ask permission from local residents before taking photos.

  • The Cave Church isn’t accessible to wheelchairs.

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How to Get There

Set in Mokattam (Muqattam or el-Mokattam) mountain in the Manshiyat Naser district—about a 6-mile (9-kilometer) drive east of Tahrir Square—the Cave Church is best reached with a private driver or on an organized tour.

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When to Get There

Coptic Orthodox Christians worship on Fridays and Sundays, which means the church becomes extremely crowded. Visit outside those days for a more serene experience. Avoid the Christmas period and Orthodox Easter.

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The Mokattam Mountain Miracle

Some know the Cave Church complex as the Mokattam Mountain Church. Coptic Orthodox Christians believe that St. Simon the Tanner moved the Mokattam mountain during the 10th century, proving the value of Christianity and saving Egypt’s Copts from mass murder. Worshippers at the Cave Church credit its successful foundation to a number of more recent miracles—seek out a local guide to find out more.

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