This is the oldest church inside Coptic Cairo's walls, built in the 11th century with 4th-century pillars. It honours the Roman soldiers Sergius and Bacchus, who were martyred in Syria for their Christian faith in AD 296. It is built over a cave where Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus are said to have taken shelter after fleeing to Egypt to escape persecution from King Herod of Judea, who had embarked upon a ‘massacre of the first born’.
Abu Sarga is based on a basilican structure with a nave and two side aisles. The nave is defined by twelve columns, eleven in white marble and one in red granite, with some showing traces of images of saints. The church houses some great icons representing the life of Christ, various saints and Virgin Mary. The cave of the Holy Family, now a crypt, is reached by descending steps in a chapel to the left of the altar (usually locked). Every year, on 1 June, a special mass is held here to commemorate the event. To get here, walk down the central lane (Haret Al-Kidees Girgis), turning right at the T, then left as it turns; stairs lead down to the entrance, below street level.