Church of St Sergius & Bacchus


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 basilica structure with a nave and two side aisles. The nave is defined by 12 columns, 11 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 the 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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Cairo attractions

1. Coptic Museum

0.03 MILES

This museum, founded in 1908, houses Coptic art from the earliest days of Christianity in Egypt right through to early Islam. It is a beautiful place, as…

2. Church of St Barbara

0.04 MILES

At the corner past Abu Sarga, the Church of St Barbara is dedicated to a martyr who was beaten to death by her father for trying to convert him to…

3. Ben Ezra Synagogue

0.04 MILES

Just outside the walls of the Coptic enclave, the 9th-century Ben Ezra Synagogue occupies the shell of a 4th-century Christian church. Tradition marks…

5. Roman Towers

0.05 MILES

In AD 98 the Roman emperor Trajan enlarged an existing fortress here, called Babylon, likely a corruption of Per-hapi-en-on (Estate of the Nile God at On)…

6. Hanging Church

0.08 MILES

Just south of the Coptic Museum on Sharia Mar Girgis (the main road parallel with the metro), a stone facade inscribed with Coptic and Arabic marks the…

7. Mosque of Amr Ibn Al As

0.31 MILES

The first mosque built in Egypt, this structure was established in AD 642 by the general who conquered Egypt for Islam. Built on the site where Ibn Al As…