Egypt : Press Release - Revival of the Holy Family's Route in Egypt

Press Release

Egyptian Tourist Authority

October 12th, 1999

Revival of the Holy Family's Route in Egypt

Within the framework of preparations taking place for Egypt's celebrations of the new millennium, the latest developments in the restoration works at some of the most significant historical landmarks related to the route of the Holy Family during their four-year stay in Egypt, were reviewed. This was conducted by the Ministries of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, as well as by the Supreme Council of Antiquities and members of the National Egyptian Heritage Revival Association (NEHRA). NEHRA is a non-governmental organization that was founded in March, 1999.

The revival of the itinerary of the Holy Family in Egypt is believed to contribute to a better understanding of Egypt and its people, and to the promotion of its beauty and values to the whole world. This project will also encourage tour operators and travel agents to develop cultural tourism programs around the route of the Holy Family for a discovery of the historical and spiritual treasures of Egypt.

The Egyptian Minister of Tourism, H.E. Dr. Mamdouh El Beltagui, remarked that the establishment of an association formed by both Muslims and Copts to revitalize the sacred relics and routes ascribed to the three monotheistic religions, illustrates how Egypt has always been a place of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence. On this occasion, the Minister also urged that the renovations of the sites associated with the route taken by Al Sayeda Zeinab, Prophet Mohammed's granddaughter, on her way into Egypt, as well as the restoration of the only remaining monument from the Elkhsheid period, in Taba-Taba of Old Cairo, should run simultaneously. Furthermore, he added that old Cairo is undergoing an extensive upgrading operation as one of Cairo's most ancient quarters, comprising Egypt's oldest synagogue, church and mosque.

Meanwhile, a "NEHRA" speaker outlined the goals of the project, their first phase of which is the restoration of sites on the Holy Family's route through Egypt, and the establishment of an accessible path linking them. This will enable tourists and pilgrims from all over the world to trace the path of the Holy Family beginning June 2000.

The following are the steps that are being undertaken for this project:

  1. Reconstruction of a monument and building of a hostel at Alfarma, the major stop of the Holy Family in Egypt

  2. The restoration of the following:
    -The Church of the Virgin Mary, Haret Zuweila in Old Cairo.
    -The Cave of the Holy Family at Abu Serga Church in Old Cairo.
    -The Virgin Mary's tree and well in Mataria
    -Virgin Mary's Church in Mostorod; restoration of the cave where the Holy Family stayed
    -The renovation and upgrading of the museum of Anba Beshoy with masterpieces of Coptic art from the monasteries of El Syriani, Baramuss and Abu Makar in Wadi Vatroun
    -The Church of the Virgin Mary in Maadi, from where the Holy Family made their way to Upper Egypt

On the other hand, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr. Ebeid, praised the initiative and declared the ministry's full support of the project. She commented that the environmentalists will be active to restore the ecological conditions at the sites of the project. Dr. Gaballa Ali Gaballa, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities presented details concerning another large scale restoration project in cooperation with the American research center to renovate Egypt's oldest monastery of Anba Antonios in Zaafrana. The budget allocated for this project is $15 million. The renovated monastery will be inaugurated on January 15, 2000 marking the birth date of Anba Antonios.