The hanging church is the most important and the oldest Church in Egypt. This church has fame and popularity among most Coptic & tourist attractions of Cairo. Here is all you need to know about the Hanging church:
The Hanging Church
Why Is It Called the Hanging Church
The name “Hanging Church” is actually the name of Saint Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church. It is even referred to as the suspended church “Al-Muallaqah”. It was built on the southern gate of the Babylon fortress, which was the Roman fortress in Coptic Cairo and that is why it is called “The Hanging Church”. The hanging church is also dedicated to Saint Mary that is why it is called Saint Virgin Mary’s church.
There are also other names of the hanging church including “The Church of Steps” because there are some steps you have to take in order to reach the main gate of the church and it was also called, “The Church of Columns” because Saint Mary herself appeared faithful on one of its columns.
The History of the Hanging Church
The hanging church was built in the 7th century and has been rebuilt many times since then including a major rebuild under the supervising of Patriarch Abraham in the 10th century. The hanging church became the official residence of the Coptic Patriarchs of Alexandria in the 11th century.
The Architecture of the Hanging Church
The entrance gate of the hanging church is well decorated on Mary Girgis Street. The gate leads to an open courtyard from where there are 29 steps to the church. At the top of the stairs, there are three wooden doors, which are decorated with geometric patterns. The right section of the sanctuary is considered the original one. The hanging church is considered the most beautiful Egyptian church because of its marble pulpit, murals, and icons, in addition, the fact that its timber roof recalls Noah’s Ark.
The marble pulpit of The hanging church is surmounted by 13 pillars that depict Jesus with the other 12 disciples. One of the pillars is black, which represents Judas, another one is grey representing Thomas and the oldest icon dates back to the 8th century. Many of the artifacts that were inside the church are now displayed in the Coptic Museum just like a lintel showing Christ’s entry into Jerusalem from the 5th or the 6th century. There are three sanctuaries dedicated to the Virgin Mary, St. George, and St. John the Baptist. The central iconostasis dates from the 13th century, which is made of ebony inlaid with ivory. It is carved with geometric designs and crosses.
The Holy Icons in The Hanging Church
There are 110 icons inside the hanging church and most of them date back to the 18th century. There is an icon in the center depicts the enthroning of the Christ with the Virgin Mary & the Archangel Gabriel to his right and there are John the Baptist, St. Paul, and the Archangel Michael to his left. There is a screen on the left that is surmounted by 17 icons, which depict the martyrdom of St. George, whereas the screen on the right has a cruciform pattern.
The Construction of the Hanging Church
To construct a fundament of the hanging church, logs of palm trees and layers of stones were constructed above the Roman fortress ruins. Its wooden roof takes the shape of Noah’s ark. The last modification of the church was made by Obeid Bin Khozam in 1755 AD and now it measures 23.5m in length, 18.5 in width and 9.5m in height.
In the middle of the southern aisle, there is a door that leads to a small church and inside this small church, there is a baptistery from the fifth century. Inside the church, there are 7 altars; three of them are located in the main sanctuary and another three are suited in the right sanctuary. Among them, there is an altar of Tecla Hymanot, who was the Ethiopian Saint.
Interesting Fact about the Hanging Church
- The hanging church has huge importance for all the Coptic Christians in Cairo. It was the first church to be built in the Basilica style. The hanging church is the site of many reported Marian apparitions, who is said to have appeared in a dream to Pope Abraham in the 970s. King Louis XIV sent the French monk Vansleb in 1671 to study the state of the churches in Egypt.
- Monk Vansleb saw some inscriptions on one wall of the hanging church, which was written by the hand of the amazing Muslim commander, Amr Ibn El-As. Amr Ibn El-As asks all Muslim People to treat this church with respect. So this church acts as a very important Christian symbol that holds inside a great Muslim message.
- The seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria was Alexandria, but in 1047 after the Muslim conquest of Egypt, the ruling power moved from Alexandria to Cairo and became the official residence of the Coptic Pope to the hanging church.
Don’t Miss the Chance to Hang Around Egypt
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What Should I Wear While Being in Egypt?
You should wear whatever you want. It is advised to wear something light from cotton or linen, comfortable and put on sunblock during your time in Egypt in the summer and wear comfortable footwear like a closed-toe shoe to sustain the sandy terrain.
What to Pack for Your Egypt Tour?
You should bring a brimmed hat and sunglasses if you not used to the Egyptian sun &pack everything you could ever need and put in a small bag so you could move easily between your destinations.
Are All Nile Cruises Available at Any Time?
Yes, it is available all years. as the Nile from Aswan to Luxor takes three to four days of sailing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the total cost of 600$ and the Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan take four to five days in Saturday, Monday and Thursday for the coast of 650$.
Why book Trips in Egypt?
We have experience in vacation planning for more than 10 years & our staff consists of the most professional operators, guides and drivers who dedicate all of their time & effort create the perfect vacation. All of our tours are customized by Travel, Financial & Time advisors to fit your every possible need during your time in egypt. we always keep in mind that your safety & comfort are our main priority until you return home.
Is it safe to travel to Egypt?
Yes, it is absolutely safe to travel to egypt, You will feel secure in Egypt as the current atmosphere of the country is very peaceful after the government took powerful measures like restructuring the entire tourist police to include all the important and tourist attractions in Egypt and construct an entire environment dedicated for ensuring the lives of all tourists.
What are Egypt's Visa Requirements?
They are very simples, If you want to apply for a Visa On Arrival that lasts for 30 days then you should be one of the eligible countries(check the link), have a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining and pay 25$ USD entry fee in cash. As for the E-Visa for 30 days, you should have a valid passport for at least 8 months, complete the online application, pay the e-visa fee then print the e-visa to later be presented to the airport border guard. You could be one of the countries eligible for a free visa for 90 days.
What is the Weather is Like?
The temperature of Egypt ranges from 37c to 14 c, Summer in Egypt is somehow hot and winter is cool and mild but sometimes it becomes cold at night. The average of low temperatures vary from 9.5 ¡ÆC in the wintertime to 23 ¡ÆC in the summertime and average high temperatures vary from 17 ¡ÆC in the wintertime to 32 ¡ÆC in the summertime while the temperature is moderate all along the coasts.
What is the Best Time of Visit Egypt?
It is known the best time to travel to Egypt is in the winter from September to April as the climate becomes a bit tropical, a warm atmosphere with a winter breeze. You will also be notified a week before your trip if the weather is unsafe or if any changes have been made.
Should I Give Tips in Egypt?
It is totally up to you, but if you choose to you can tip the servers at your restaurant 5-10% by handing it to them directly and 5 Egyptian Pounds as a general tip of anyone.
Can I Enter the Pyramids?
Yes, you can enter the pyramids for the small fee of 20$.
How to Enjoy Egypt During Ramadan?
Ramadan is a special time of year for Muslims that should be celebrated by non-Muslims and feel the essence of the Islamic culture. You can fast with the Muslim or just observe but you are always welcome to join the celebrations and festivals.