MONASTERIES IN AND AROUND CAIRO
To the north, there was a village called Damanhur Shubra or Damanhur Shahid (Dayr Yuhanna), and not far from there but outside Cairo in the Middle Ages, DAYR AL-KHANDAQ, which contained several churches.
Within Cairo, there were two convents of nuns near the residence of the patriarch, called Dayr al-Rahibat, the first dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin and the second dedicated to Saint Theodorus. One of these two monasteries is in HARIT ZUWAYLAH and the other in HARIT AL-RUM. There is no text to help fix the date of these convents, but it is probable that they are as ancient as the patriarchal residence situated near the first of them, which dates from the pontificate of the patriarch MACARIUS II (1102-1128).
To the south in the ancient Misr outside Cairo is the Monastery of Saint Mercurius or DAYR ABU SAYFAYN. This monastery was reconstructed under the patriarch CYRIL V (1874-1927). A passage between the churches of Anba Shinudah and Abu Sayfayn at first appears to be a cul de sac, but leads to the convent of nuns (Jullien, 1891, p. 225). A certain number of objects worthy of mention are here (Coquin, 1974, pp. 58-59).
Inside the QASR AL-SHAM‘ is DAYR AL BANAT, mentioned by travelers from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on and by the HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS. Mention should be made of a wooden door of the Fatimid period (Coquin, p. 151).
Two groups of churches still bear the name of Dayr: Dayr Babilun al-Daraj and Dayr Tadrus (Coquin, pp. 181f.).
Farther to the south is the Dayr Mikha’il al-Qibli. This is today no more than a church that is mentioned at several places by the History of the Patriarchs (the texts are conveniently collected in Coquin, pp. 205ff.). The oldest mention of this church appears to be from 1210.
We must also mention the two monasteries called DAYR AL- TIN and Dayr al Nuzhah, as well as DAYR AL-NASTUR.
- Coquin, C. Les Edifices chrétiens du Vieux Caire. Bibliothèque d’etudes coptes 11. Cairo, 1974.
- Jullien, M. L’Egypte, souvenirs bibliques et chrétiens. Lille, 1891. Vansleb, J. M. Nouvelle relation en forme de journal d’un voyage fait en Egypte en 1672 et 1673, p. 241. Paris, 1677. Transl. as The Present State of Egypt. London, 1678; repr. Farnborough, 1972.