25 May 2024 08:06 AM

The Hanging Church

Tuesday، 14 October 2014 - 12:00 AM

The Hanging Church is one of the oldest churches in Egypt and the history of a church on this site dates to the 2nd century AD.

It is called the Hanging Church because it was built on the southern of Babylon Fortress, the Roman fortress in Coptic Cairo (Old Cairo). Logs of palm trees and layers of stones were constructed above the ruins of the Roman fortress to be used as a fundament. The Hanging Church is a unique church and has a wooden roof in the shape of Noah's ark.


The entrance from the street is through iron gates under a pointed stone arch. The nineteenth-century facade with twin bell towers is then seen beyond a narrow courtyard decorated with modern art biblical designs. Up the steps and through the entrance is a further small courtyard leading to the eleventh-century outer porch.

There are three sanctuaries at the eastern side of the church, the one in the middle is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the one to the left is named after St. George and the one to the right is named after John the Baptist. Inside the sanctuaries painted baldachins are placed above the altars.

The wooden screen is a unique piece of art and richly decorated with geometric patterns and crosses in ebony and ivory. The wooden screen is crowned by precious icons, in the center the enthroned Jesus, on the left side the Virgin Mary, Archangel Gabriel and St. Peter, on the right side John the Baptist, Archangel Michael and St. Paul.

There is a door at the south-eastern corner of the church leading to the oldest part of the building. This part has three sanctuaries at the eastern side. The one in the middle is called after St. Demian, the one to the left is named after St. Takla Hymanot (an Ethiopian saint), and the one to the right is named after St. Andrew. Beside these sanctuaries is the baptistery.

There is also a fresco on the eastern wall of the chapel showing the Nativity (the birth of Christ) and the mid wife Salome, next to it a second fresco of 24 men of the apocalypse. Furthermore, on the first floor there is a church dedicated to St. Mark.

Seat of Coptic Pope

The Seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria was, historically, Alexandria, Egypt. But as ruling powers moved away from Alexandria to Cairo during Pope Christodolos's tenure, Cairo became the fixed and official residence of the Coptic Pope at the Hanging Church in 1047.

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