There are many attractive destinations in Egypt. Tourists enjoy visiting many historical, Islamic, Coptic, and Pharaonic sites. The city where there are all these aspects is Cairo. Cairo (the capital of Egypt) is called “the City of a thousand minarets”, you can also highlight The Coptic Quarter where the Holy Family lived when they arrived in Egypt.
Most of the Christians who are in Cairo live in the Coptic Quarter. The attractions of the Coptic Quarter are the Church of St. George, the Coptic Museum, and the Church of St. Sergius. The most famous tourist destination in the Coptic Quarter in Cairo is the Hanging Church. It is the oldest Coptic monument in Coptic Cairo.
It is known by the name of the Hanging Church because it was built on the remains of the door of the Roman fortress. During the 14th and 15th centuries, it was known as the Church of Escalinata because you have to climb 29 steps to reach the door of the Church. It is also known as the Church of the Virgin Mary. It is a reference to the Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary.
The History of the Hanging Church
The church was built in the first century and finished in the third century at the southern gate of the Roman Babylonian fortress. From the seventh to the twelfth century the Church was the place of Christian festivals and the first patriarchal seat. During the 11th and 12th centuries, the patriarchs were buried in the Church. It was the first seat of the Pope of Alexandria in Cairo in 1047 when the Islamic moved the Egyptian capital from Alexandria to Cairo.
The church was restored many times during the Islamic dynasties. The first renovation during the Islamic dynasty was during the dynasty of Harun Al-Rashid by the order of the Pope of Alexandria. The second was during the dynasty of El-Moez El-Din Al-lah who ordered the renovation of all churches in Egypt. The last restoration was in 1998 (renovation of lighting and wall paintings).
The Construction of the Hanging Church
From the outside; The Church was built 13 m from the ground. There is a fountain in front of the church. There are two iron doors; one as an entrance and the other as an exit. There is a passage after the entrance, this passage is decorated with biblical mosaics. The passage leads to a staircase of 29 steps.
At the end of the staircase, there are the doors of the Church and the facade. The doors are 3 wooden doors carved by geometric patterns. The two-tower façade is modern from the 19th century.
From inside; The Church is rectangular 18 m and 23 m, its height is 9 m. It is divided into three parts in its ends there are three sanctuaries; one of the Virgin Mary (the central one), of San Jorge (in the north), and Juan Baptista (in the south). Each one is decorated with an ivory screen. The ceiling is made of wood, in the shape of Noah’s Ark. The walls are decorated with icons representing life and death.
There is a marble pulpit supported by 13 pillars. The 13 white marble pillars represent Jesus and his 12 disciples. One of the pillars is made of black basalt representing Judas’ betrayal and the other is gray representing Thomas’s doubts.
About the Hanging Church
It was said that the Church was built where the Holy Family lived when they fled from the Palestinian ruler. Most of the screens were painted in the 18th century. The Church was converted to a mosque in the dynasty of Al-Hakim and returned as a Christian Church after his death. The original artifacts were removed. The Mona Lisa icon representing the Virgin Mary is considered the most famous icon in the Hanging Church.
Explore Cairo by Jakada Tours Egypt
Cairo is a big city that has many attractive places for tourists. If you want to explore the Coptic attractions of Cairo which is close to the famous Islamic attractions for an organized trip, check out our Cairo excursions and review your dream vacation, or if you want to explore more destinations in Egypt see our Egypt travel packages or Nile cruise.