Coptic Cairo - Hanging Church, Cairo
The oldest Coptic church in Egypt is also called hanging church because it was built on the Roman tower. You may see it under its glass floor near the entrance of the church. The architecture of the church imitates the Arch of Noah (the celling part) and they still keep the original stage in the middle of the church. Coptic church is the oldest Christian on earth. This is the only tourist spot in Cairo without the entrance fee!! After the main entrance going to the church, you will see tyle painting wall at the sides. After the stairs going to the main site of coptic church, you will see the picture of cocptic priests on the upper side of the wall. Take a look at Virgin Mary painting at the right back side and take your time to bow your head and pray. You may take pictures inside the church, without the flash please.
Constructed around the 4th or 5th Century, the church was named "Al-Muaallaqah" (other names "Sitt Mariam" and "Saint Mary") because it was built on top of the south gate of the Fortress of Babylon.
"Muaallaqah" means "hanging".
This is the most renown Coptic Christian church in Cairo and it is said that it was the first built in basilican style probably during the patriarchate of Isaac (690 - 92 B.C.).
Inside the church you can find the "Egyptian Mona Lisa", an icon of the Virgin Mary painted by Amba Ibraham on a column on the right side of the entrance.
Amba Ibraham saw Virgin Mary in his dream saying to him that she will help him to move the mountain in order to obtain the sheik's help for building a church on this place.
This church, dedicated to the Virgin, and one of the oldest churches in all Egypt, is alsosurely one of the most beautiful. Originally its nave was suspended over the passage leading through a gatehouse in the walls of the fortress, nowadays in is more conventionally approached by a high staircase leading up from a lovely courtyard. Inside you will find lovely carved ebony screens with delicate ivory inlays - the whole thing constructed like an enormous jigsaw puzzle with neither nails nor pegs to hold it together. The ivory allows the passage of light - the effect is stunning.
The church is full of symbolism - its roof shaped like an upturned hull supported by eight pillars - a reference to Noah and the eight members of his family who sailed on the ark with him. The central pulpit is supported by thirteen pillars - Christ and his disciples - with one pillar carved from black marble representing Judas, Christ's betrayer.
Although the church has been through many rebuildings and restorations, much that is truly ancient remains, including an icon that is reputed to date from the 7th century and some fairly recently discovered frescoes that are being carefully restored.
Once again, recent reports tell of photography no longer being allowed.
The hanging church is considered to be the oldest church in old Cairo area. It is caked hanging because it was built on the ruines of two old towers that remains from an old fortress that was known as the fortress of Babylon. The church has been dedicated to Virgin Mary and Saint Dimiana.It was buikt between the late 3rd century and the eary 4th one but it has been renovated and reconscructed several times since then. Its important role in Coptic religion is dued to the fact that it became the seat of the atriarch after transferring it from Alexandria. In the church there are 110 icons, the odest obnes are from the oth century but most of them date to the 18th century.
"Hanging church" was shelter for the Holy Family on their trip through Egypt. There you can see everything about it. You can also buy posters and books about it or some other things which explain Copt's life and culture.
Built by the Romans 2100 years ago, it is called Al Muallaka (the hanging) because it was built up on ruins of two old towers left from the old fortress of Babylon. It was a Roman Temple converted to Roman Church and later to a Coptic Church. The church was dedicated to The Virgin Mary.
One of its numerous names also is a “staircase church” as about 30 stairs lead to the main entrance.
The interior is simply wonderful. The wooden dome, the frescos and a marble are combined to create unrepeatable impression.
The church was first built, in Basilcan style, near the end of the 4th century.
The church consists of a courtyard surrounded by two wings with pointed arches, and a long aisle lined with marble columns. In the eastern wing, there are three altars (haykals) with beautiful ebony and ivory inlaid wooden screens. The center alter is dedicated to Christ, while the left sanctuary is dedicated to St. George and the right to St John the Baptist. On the right wall of the church as you enter are many ancient icons, including a 10th century icon of the Virgin and Child, Egyptian faces and Byzantine crowns.
I don't know what I had in mind when hearing the name of this Church but the origin is less surprising then I had suspected.Its name comes from the fact that the nave is suspended above the passage.
What is surprising is its beauty, announced by the beautiful innercourt.
Its importance throughout history comes form the fact that it became the residence of Coptic patriarchs of Alexandria and that many synods to determinate the day when Easter should be celebrated were held here. (Let it be noted that Coptic Christians follow the old Roman Calendar and not the modern one which devides the time before and after the birth of Jesus Christ).
The Hanging Church - which is also known as El Muallaqa - is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. its name comes from its location: on top
of the southern tower gate of the old Babylon with its nave suspended above the passage.
Muallaqa means suspended, and inside the church there are places where you can look down and see it being really suspended. The church has some really interesting icons to show to the visitor, as well as an impressive timber wagon-vaulted roof.
When we visited it, we were impressed by the noise of the people - very unlike European churches. All over the church, and especially outside in the garden, there were several children playing and happily screaming. We found it refreshing - deprived of the imposed seriousness of our churches.
In Arabic it is called l-Muallaqah meaning "The Suspended". aka Sitt Mariam or St. Mary's Church since it is dedicated to St. Mary.
The name 'Hanging church' comes from its location on top of the southern tower gate of the old Babylon fortress (see the picture).
Fondest memory: the discussion about icons: We, Christians, consider icons not as idols, rather than as an image of the God and the saints. And we do not worship them, we worship the God.
See the icons on one of the my pictures - the heads are represented bigger than normally.
We, Orthodox Christians light candles when we enter the church. But in Bulgaria everybody buys its candles. Here (and as I was told, in Greece and in other Orthodox Christian countries) people light candles that were already used. Instead, the donate some money.
Inside: taking pictures is allowed only without flash
more to come
This beautiful church is called hanging/suspended as it rests on pillars. The interior dates from ?7-9th century, especially nice is the wooden ceiling.
It is defnitely worth visiting this church, and good to have a guide to explain the history etc.
The Hanging Church also known as the Saint Virgin Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the oldest churches in Cairo.Inside the church you can find lots of old statues, paintings and mosaics of the Virgin Mary and the 12 apostles. Old/antique benches are still being used. The windows are made of colorful stained glass.
This is Cairo's most famous church may have been orifginally built in 684 on the top of Roman walls. There is a nice view from the stairs towrd the yard. Its decorated with wood-works on the top of the boundary wall.
Next we stop by the famed "Hanging Church" (Saint Virgin Mary’s Church) . It turns out to be just that; it literally hangs between two towers. Built in the 3rd century AD ,it is quite and amazing structure and the ceiling is built to represent Noah’s Arc. We stop to see the many relics of saints and martyr all whose fate too horrific to even write about. They died as they lived for their faith.
For the most part the church is quite rustic , which is understandable considering its age. The heavy doors are inlaid with ebony and ivory and the huge pillars are of marble. There are 13 pillars designed to represent the 12 apostles and Christ. The floors have escape hatches, which were used through the ages to save the lives of the priests and their followers during attacks.
This tablet in the Hanging Church chronicles the return journey of the Holy Family (Joseph, Mary, and Jesus) from Egypt back to Israel. The story goes that the Holy Family sought haven in Egypt while fleeing from the soldiers of Herod, king of Israel. Christian Coptic tradition holds the family arrived in Egypt on June 1 when Christ was still a baby and stayed three years and 11 months. Muslims believe that they stayed for seven years.
At the end of their stay a messenger of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said: "Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel; for they are dead which sought the young child's life." The Holy Family then began the long journey home. They went back through Assiut , and then probably sailed down the Nile to Memphis, landing at what is now Al-Badrashein near the ancient capital. Once again they may have passed through Maadi, Babylon and Heliopolis before crossing the desert to Palestine and, finally, reaching their home town of Nazareth. So was Hosea's prophecy fulfilled: "Out of Egypt I have called my son."