Hanging Church of Cairo is one of Egypt’s oldest churches, believed to have been built in 690 AD. It’s also Egypt’s most famous Basilica style churches.
The Saint Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church is just one of the countless historical Cairo attractions that await visitors arriving in the city. Typically referred to as the Hanging Church of Cairo, it is one of the oldest churches in all of Egypt. It’s also undeniably the country’s most famous church, attracting countless thousands of tourists each year. The church got its name due to its location above an ancient Roman fortress gate house.
Egypt’s Oldest Basillica Style Church
It is also believed to be the first Basillica style church built in Egypt. The exact age of the church is not known, but most historians believe it was built around 690 AD. There are also records of another church on the same site, dating back to the 3rd century AD.
When the Hanging Church of Cairo was first built, the two pillars of the Roman gate house would have been clearly visible below the church, but over the centuries, the ground has risen quite dramatically, and today the pillars are completely buried.
Although the church was probably built in 690, several additions and alterations have been made during the years. In fact, Pope Abraham had most of the church rebuilt between 975 and 978. It has also recently been restored, with many of its original relics sent to the Coptic Museum.
Holy Icons Of The Hanging Church In Cairo
The Hanging Church of Cairo has a total of 110 icons, most of which date back to the 18th century, although there are several that are older than that. For example, it has been established that one of the icons dates all the back to the 8th century.
A vast number of the icons found within the Hanging Church In Cairo have been made from ebony, and many have been inlaid with ivory. Some of the most prominent icons feature Jesus; the Virgin Mary; Archangel Gabriel; Archangel Michael; St. Peter; St. Paul and St. John the Baptist. In addition to these icons, one can also see several that feature various types of Coptic Crosses.
Another interesting feature of the church is its vast wooden domed roof/ceiling. Apart from being a spectacular representation of age old craftsmanship, it was also designed to mimic the shape of Noah’s ark.
The oldest and holiest icon in the Hanging Church in Cairo dates back to the 8th century, and features the Coptic Mona Lisa with baby Jesus sitting on her lap, and John the Baptist standing in front of them. Not only is this the oldest icon, but it’s also the most highly revered icon in the church.
Historically, the city of Alexandria in Egypt, has been the Seat of the Coptic Pope, hence the official title, “Coptic Pope of Alexandria.” However, when the Arabs invaded Egypt, it was decided that Cairo would be a better option than Alexandria, and as such, Cairo subsequently became the official Seat of the Coptic Pope, also known as the Holy Sea of St. Mark because the Pope is believed to be St. Mark’s successor.
These days, both Cairo and Alexandria are recognized as the Seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope, although the Pope’s official residence is the Hanging Church in Cairo.
Miracle Of The Moving Mountain
The Hanging Church of Cairo is also known as the Suspended Church, or Al-Moallaqa in Arabic, and is closely connected to a famous miracle which involved the moving of Moqattam Mountain. At around 976 AD, a Fatimid caliph challenged the Coptic Pope, Patriarch Abraham to move Moqattam Mountain in order to prove a verse in the Bible that says it is possible to move a mountain if you have faith.
For three days the Patriarch knelt before a painting of the Virgin Mary and prayed, and on the third day she appeared to him in a vision, telling him what to do. The Fatimid caliph was convinced of the truth of the Christian faith, and subsequently granted the church special privileges.
Visiting The Nearby Coptic Museum
The Hanging Church of Cairo is conveniently located, and it’s also very close to the Coptic Museum which is also one of the more popular Cairo attractions, and certainly worth visiting. Because of its popularity among tourists arriving in Cairo, we have included a visit to the church in a number of our Egypt tour packages and 1 Day Tours. However, not all private guided tours of Egypt include a visit to the church or the museum, so it’s best to check before booking your tour.
If the Hanging Church of Cairo isn’t featured in your chosen tour itinerary, please let our customer service department know and they will be more than happy to make the necessary changes.
Cairo Attractions And Customized Egypt Tours
If your preferred Egypt tour package doesn’t include all the Cairo attractions you want to see, such as the Hanging Church of Cairo, you can also take advantage of our Custom Egypt Tours which essentially put you in control.
Tell us what you want to see and do in Egypt; what your budget is, and how long you intend being in the country, and we’ll tailor a package just for you.
Egypt is a fascinating destination that never fails to leave visitors with lifelong memories of an ancient civilization. From the Hanging Church Of Cairo to the countless other Cairo attractions that include the majestic Giza pyramids to vast deserts, and from thriving cities to luxurious Nile River cruises, Egypt has something for everyone.