Homes of fourth-century church custodians live on in Cairo
The Fortress of Babylon in Cairo
By: RAHMA DIAA

CAIRO: Once home to a hundred Coptic families, a few still reside in the 4th-century chambers at the Fortress of Babylon in Cairo. And they are not planning to leave their ancestral homes, Youm7 reported.The ancient homes are renovated yearly to continue withstanding the face of time. Sabah Gendy, 70, lives in one of these homes, which her late husband inherited from his father. She says she is proud to be living in this ancient area which is thought to have been honored by a visit of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.

“The first time we renovated the chamber, we found tree branches that had been used to build it. We are less than ten families now. We were once a hundred, but some died and some went to live somewhere else,” said Milad Gendy, 60, who lives with her sister in her home.

The Gendy family said a few films were shot in this area and several celebrities visited them, including Omar Sherif and Hillary Clinton. They also say that they raised the children of the owners of the bazaars in the area, of which many are Muslims.

Kamilia, 60, lives alone in one of the chambers. She inherited it from her father who worked at Saint Barbara church. “My children got married and left, but I do not want to leave here because I like the quiet and tranquility; things that do not exist outside,” said Kamilia.

The chambers were traditionally bequeathed from one generation to another. They originally belonged to the custodians of neighboring churches. The place has several floors underground and a big gate which the custodians used to close at the times of Hyksos and Berbers in order to protect themselves from persecution.

 

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