History of the Ben Ezra Synagogue
Egypt is home to many unique relics from all centuries and religions, including Judaism. One of these gorgeous structures is the Ben Ezra Synagogue, which is situated just behind the Hanging Church and is said to be the location where the pharaoh’s daughter discovered the casket of infant Moses. The synagogue has a long history and is historically significant because it was originally a church called El-Shamieen before being purchased by Abraham Ben Ezra for 20,000 dinars from the Copts in 882 A.D. to pay for annual taxes during the reign of Emperor Ahmed InbTulun and converted into a synagogue. In ancient Greek, the term “synagogue” meant “the typical location where Jews congregate to pray and receive religious lessons.” It was a sacred destination for major festival festivities and a point of pilgrimage for North African Jews.
Facts about the Ben Ezra Synagogue
It is Egypt’s oldest and most important Jewish temple, as a treasure was discovered in a hiding place for sacred books and worn-out Torah scrolls in the 19th century, containing thousands of rare documents that recorded the history of Cairo’s community since the 11th century during Egypt’s medieval era, and are now stored in England at Cambridge University. The synagogue is said to have originally housed a copy of the genuine Old Testament. It has been a popular tourist destination since the bulk of Egypt’s Jewish population left in the 1950s after the colonization of Palestine, the establishment of Israel, and the revolt of the Free Officers.
The architecture of the Ben Ezra Synagogue
Following the collapse of the previous temple in 1892, the present structure underwent major repairs. The Ben Ezra synagogue has two levels, the first for men and the second for women, and is built in the basilica style. The main floor is split into three sections by steel bars, with an octagonal marble bima “A Platform for Torah Reading” in the middle. All of the decorations, such as star patterns, rectangles, and pentagonal patterns, are from the Turkish era. There is also an ottoman arabesque and a blend of Hatai and Roman designs.
Surround Yourself with More One-of-a-Kind Attractions
Ben Ezra Synagogue is one of the most popular Cairo tourist attractions, drawing thousands of visitors each year. If you’re in Cairo, check out our Cairo day tours or browse our Egypt private tours to find the vacation that’s right for you, and we’ll arrange for you to visit Ben Ezra Synagogue if you prefer.