CAIRO: The Church of St. Mark, nestled in Egypt’s Ismailia Governorate, stands as a timeless testament to architectural grandeur. Located about 100 km east of Cairo, this 160-year-old church is often referred to as the French Church, with its association with Ferdinand de Lesseps, the visionary behind the Suez Canal.
Flobater Gad, a Coptic architectural art researcher, emphasizes the church’s status as an architectural masterpiece that attracts visitors from various faiths. It has gained heritage importance due to its resemblance to a church in France and features stunning paintings and a cave symbolizing Christ’s birthplace.
Shahinaz Malak, an Ismailia resident and archaeology student, highlights the church’s significance as one of the oldest in the governorate. The Cathedral of Saint Mark, affiliated with the Coptic Catholic denomination, boasts artistic value and historical roots dating back to the construction of a small church in 1864.
During the excavation of the Suez Canal, three churches were built in Ismailia, serving as places of worship for workers. Despite facing challenges, including a major flood in 1865, the church persevered. Abdelmajid Abdelaziz, an Egyptian heritage researcher, notes that the church’s expansion and construction of a new building in 1924 further solidified its presence as a cultural and religious landmark.
Today, the Church of St. Mark continues to draw visitors, transcending religious boundaries and captivating all who appreciate its rich history and architectural splendor