The Unique History of the “Hanging Church” in Coptic Cairo, Egypt
January 10, 2022
The Church of Virgin Mary in Old Cairo is more commonly referred to as the “Hanging Church”. It gets its name from the fact that it was built on the ruins of two towers from the old roman fortress of Babylon. The church dates back to the 4th century and is one of the oldest churches of any kind in Cairo. The entrance to the church is quite stunning as you have to climb 29 steps up to the entrance, which sits on top of the ruins. It is harder to imagine today the effect that it had of seeming to be suspended above the towers, hence the feeling that it is hanging above the ruins.
The Hanging Church was built in the basilican style and was meant to mimic the shape of Noah’s ark. There is a large, marble pulpit and one of the main features is the sanctuary screen, which is made of cedar wood and ebony inlaid with ivory. The church also has 110 icons that have been provided to the church over the centuries and are on display. It was one of the last places that we visited on a very busy day in Cairo that included going to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, sailing in a felucca on the Nile River, visiting Abu Serga Church (Cave Church), Ben Ezra Synagogue, Church of St. George, and the ancient Babylon Fortress.