Caves resonate with humans on deep spiritual level. They not only provided shelter to our ancestors, but they were the sites of the first religious rites. It’s no wonder that these structures remain powerful sources of spirituality. Enigmatic cave temples exist around the world. While many are ancient, their modern counterparts suggest that worshiping in caves will endure indefinitely.
10. Cave Church Of The ‘Garbage People’
The Zabbaleen are a Coptic Christian minority within Egypt. Their name means “garbage people.” Once Upper Egyptian farmers, the Zabbaleen realized that scavenging through waste was more profitable after they migrated to Cairo. In 1969, the capital’s governor decided to move all the Zabbaleen to “Garbage City,” at the base of Mokattam Cliff. They built a church to satisfy the community’s spiritual needs, but it burned down in 1976. Afterward, they carved a church from the cliff’s caves.
Named after a tenth-century craftsman, the Monastery of St. Simon is the largest church in the Middle East. The church is built into a preexisting, sloping cave and can house 20,000. Smaller churches have been built into surrounding caves. “Garbage City” now has a population of about 30,000 inhabitants, and hundreds of thousands of Christians make pilgrimages to the Cave Church of St. Simon each year.