Our first stop today was the Hanging Church. In my non educated, I don't care about anything christian mind, I thought that meant that the church was literally going to be hanging somewhere. I know - ignorance plus. Turns out the church is considered to be hanging because it was built mostly underground with only the very top structure above the earth. The nave is suspended over a passage so its my interpretation that is where they "hanging" reference comes into play. The exterior of the church is very "mission" in feel however once you enter, the art work inside is really something to see. There is so much going on though that it is almost gaudy inside. Some of the crosses date back to the 12th century, and the stone work in the columns and arches is distinctly Moorish. The mosaics that line the courtyard are very clever and tell the story of Jesus and Mary's journey. Once you get inside its hard to know where to look everything is so incredible, and while it doesn't really mean anything to me, I can see the quality of both design and application.
It seems to me that most religions are based around care and tolerance of others but in practice, we are still centuries later, persecuting those who don't believe what we do. Seeing this minute space where a family hid from persecution, no matter whether you believe they were religious figures or not, is heartbreaking. This was at its very core a family of refugees hiding in fear. Not cool. Not then. Not now. Not eva. Its about time we started LEARNING how to treat each other.
We had just come from the Hanging Church and the difference in feel is quite distinct. Obviously that was a church and this is a mosque, however the open area's and simplistic spaces make it very easy for all Muslims to practice their faith no matter what the weather. It was easily 35-40 degrees that day and it was so cool inside the main prayer room that we could sit quietly and observe in the heat of the day.
Cairo itself is a giant dust bowl and while I embrace their water conservation policy, it is a real shame to see that the mosque doesn't seem to be maintained externally. The inside is immaculate, however years and years of dust coats everything outside and you can't help but wonder if all those pollutants are causing irreparable damage to the alabaster. It is truly a remarkable building and I loved our few hours there.