Abbey Church of the Apostles is back on Egypt's tourist map

Source: Ahram

After years of neglect, the Abbey Church of the Apostles in Atfih town in Giza regains its original splendour.

On Wednesday, Mostafa Amin secretary general of  the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), inaugurated the Abbey Church of the Apostles in Atfih town in Giza governorate after the completion of its restoration with a budget that reached LE6 million.

The opening came within the framework of a drive by the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) to save the Coptic shrine and to open more sites to tourists, in order to encourage the tourism industry.

The church, like other Coptic and Islamic monuments located in rural areas, had suffered serious damage, including from high sub-soil water levels, high levels of humidity, and an outdated and decayed sewerage system installed 100 years ago.

This in addition to the adverse effects of the earthquake in 1992, which increased the number of cracks in the church structure.

Mohamed El-Sheikha, head of the Projects Sector at the MSA, told Ahram Online that the restoration work was carried out according to the latest scientific methods. The restoration project was conducted in two phases, the first starting more than 10 years ago and aimed to decrease sub-soil water levels and to prevent water leakage in the future.

The second phase, El-Sheikha said, started six years ago. It aimed at strengthening the church's foundations and protecting them from future damage.

This was achieved using the "micro-pile system" which, he explained, entailed the installation of sharp pointed columns beneath the church's archaeological complex to reinforce its foundations. The walls were reinforced, missing and decayed stones were replaced, and masonry cleaned and desalinated.

Amin pointed out that the church has a very distinguished basilica architectural style built on 400 square metres. It is known as the Domes Church as its ceilings are decorated with 12 domes representing the 12 disciples of Jesus. It also has three altars — the father of the Apostles, Saint Anthony and the Virgin Mary.

At the church's eastern wall an ancient Egyptian inscribed stelae from the reign of New Kingdom King Ramses was discovered. It depicts Ramses II giving offerings before the goddess Hathor and has hieroglyphic text showing the king's different titles and names.