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persecution and insult. They are always, moreover, enclosed in a fortress. Those which are not in the ancient Roman citadel, are in ders l_or little citadels of their own.
One of them, called the Mo'allaka, or hanging church, because it is built on to a Roman bastion, is among the most beautiful churches in the world; it can be mentioned in the same breath as St. Mark's at Venice or the Royal Chapel at Palermo, for the richness and perfect harmony of its decorations. The original entrance, through an underground passage, which the most savage persecutor would hesitate to enter for fear of a stab in the darkness, is no longer used. In more tolerant times the church has been given an approach of great beauty. In the high wall near the entrance is a white marble Coptic stoup. You enter an octagonal hall with old carved benches round its walls which leads into a gracious courtyard, with a fountain like an old Sicilian monastery and a pergola of vines. At its end are a noble flight of steps and a handsome porch opening into a delightful inner court, like the patios built at Tunis by the exiled Moors of Granada, light and bright, throwing into high relief the old church to which it admits.
You open the door and are almost stunned by the effect. The Mo'allaka is large for a Coptic church, especially when you consider the character of its decorations, for it is lined all round with the most perfect Coptic screens. Kait Bey, the chief builder of mediæval Cairo, four hundred years ago had one imitated on a mosque pulpit. Even in his day this cost him a thousand pounds. These Coptic screens are made of old dark wood, whose polished surface is inlaid with discs of ivory, ebony, and mother-of-pearl. Here they are extremely ancient, and their ivory discs are carved as delicately as the ivory crucifixes and reliquaries in the great days of Byzantine art. These old screens, which have Moresque
' In Egypt the word Der generally signifies one of the old fortified convents. But Mr. Ball, one of the most distinguished members of the Survey Department of Egypt, in his report on the great Oasis points out that the word is also applied by the natives to the Roman forts of the Oasis, which possess no trace of ever having been used as convents.
arches inserted at a later date to lead to the sanctuary, have the mellow lines of antiquity. I suppose the chapels behind the beautiful screens which back on the entrance wall are in theory for the women, who are separated from the men in Coptic churches, for the Mo'allaka has not the usual place allotted to women. One of the chapels contains a very beautiful Byzantine Madonna painted before the Byzantines had lost the roundness and softness of ancient Roman pictures.
This little old church has wonderful grace as well as wonderful softness of colouring, and in its centre is a tall, long, narrow pulpit, made of old marble, which would be like the ambones of the Aracoeli at Rome if it were not supported on fifteen antique marble colonnettes instead of a base, panelled with porphyry and serpentine. In the chapel to the right of the sanctuary is an altar with a rich antique baldachin, a rare feature in Coptic churches, and behind the screens on the right is another antique church, less richly decorated, formed out of a room in the Roman bastion.
I have seen seven antique Coptic churches in and around this Babylon. The most perfect and important is Abu Sargeh, in whose crypt are shown the vaults in which the Holy Family lay concealed during their fight into Egypt. The most interesting is Abu Sefen, which preserves the features of a primitive basilica. Babylon contains also the most ancient Greek cathedral, well restored, built into another Roman bastion, with an arcade of high beauty running round it, and the finest view of Cairo. And just outside it is the oldest Cairo mosque--that of Amr the victorious, who conquered Egypt for the Caliphs, and named the city that he founded Al-Fustat, the City of the Tent. This mosque, going back to the first century of Mohammedanism, is all that remains of Al-Fustat, which was burnt by a twelfthcentury Caliph to prevent it falling into the hands of the Crusaders. In the mounds of sand heaped upon its ruins by the winds of the desert any one who likes can fossick for the remains of Arab pottery (all dating from before A.D. 1160), of which such glowing fragments are exhibited
in the South Kensington Museum. The almost deserted mosque of Amr has a humble exterior ; but, inside, the forest of antique columns, restored in the fifteenth century, give its liwân a noble effect.
There is no better way to enter the city of Ibn Tulun, the second part of the mediæval city, than by walking over the mounds of Fustat, a mountainous desert in miniature, keeping on your right the aqueduct of Saladin, which might, but for its pointed arches, be the work of a Roman Emperor, and, fixing your eyes on the pageant of the Mameluke Tombs, second only to the Tombs of the Caliphs for splendour in the cemeteries of the Mohammedan world, and the Citadel crowned by the soaring Mosque of Mehemet Ali, rivalling the marvellous skyline of the Golden Horn. Behind the mosque and the tombs are the Golden Hills of the Mokattam range, with their horizon of desert broken by antique mosques, the true Citadel for Cairo.
In El-Katai, the city of Ibn Tulun, there is not a trace of the famous Golden House, for which he and his son exhausted the art, the luxury, and the imaginativeness of their times. But of Ibn Tulun's mosque only the colour and the pulpit carvings have gone, though a thousand years are beginning to tell their tale on the rich plaster tracery of the windows of the clerestory at the back of the sanctuary. The hardest stone of Gothic church-builders would have stood no longer than this marvellous stucco. The mosque is of vast extent, one of the largest in the world, and every roof and every pier is standing in its place, though it was abandoned for the very poor to fill with mud houses till the wise English rule induced the Mohammedan Wakfs to look after their monuments. It was the first mosque to employ piers instead of columns, the suggestion of a Christian slave, for otherwise every church in Egypt would have been robbed of the columns garnered from antique temples. In the centre stands the famous minaret, with an outside staircase winding round its exterior, for which Ibn Tulun twisted the design out of a piece of paper, when his architect's ingenuity ran dry,
At the back of the mosque-if you can find your tortuous
way beneath the tall, overhanging houses of the Mameluke period, whose harem windows (vast oriels decorated with old meshrebiya screens) are a delight to artists—lies the Mosque of Kait Bey, one of the gems of Cairo, the most perfect specimen of the period when Egyptian mosques ceased to be open cloisters, with their Eastern colonnade deepened to shelter the worshippers from the sun as they prostrated themselves before the mihrab.
The Kait Bey type of mosque was like the hall of an emir's palace, hardly longer than its height, with a richly painted roof, and windows with tiny bits of coloured glass set like gems in a delicate filigree of plaster. The sunken floor under the exquisitely graceful dome was inlaid, like the walls, in rare marbles with the choicest taste, and surrounded by four dayses, cut off by the lofty Moorish arches which sustained the dome. The eastern dars was adorned with a mihrab in delicate mosaics, and a tall pulpit with a Jacob'sladder stair of the same rare woodwork as the Coptic screens.
No part of Cairo is so rich in small ancient buildings as El. Katai. Between it and El-Kahira lie the ancient mosques and dervish tekkes of the Hilmiya and the Gamamise, leading to the palace of Sheikh Sadat, the type of the great Arab mansion, where, till he was poisoned by a would-be son-inlaw a few years ago, the chief descendant of the Prophet lived. His palace is quite a castle, which has a selamlik as large as a mosque, with its lofty walls inlaid with old Persian tiles, and a range of superb oriels, screened by the richest meshrebiya, for the ladies of the harem, over
a feudal gateway.
There are three approaches from El-Katai to the Bab-esSuweyla, the chief gate of El-Kahira—the Bazar of the Armourers, starting by Sultan Hassan's mosque, the most majestic in Cairo; the Sharia Serougiya, a little to the left of this, and the Sharia-el-Magar, leading down from the shoulder of the Citadel hill. All of them abound in mediaeval beauties. The Sharia Serougiya takes you past a succession of little mosques with domes which are dreams of slender grace, and a few old mansions, into the busy