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The Hanging Church
NileGuide Expert Says:
This is an important and atmospheric church, and visitors are welcome to attend the Coptic Mass that takes place on Friday and Sunday mornings.
Mar Girgis Street
+20 (0)2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
The Hanging Church is also known as The Saint Virgin Mary Coptic Orthodox Church. It is the most famous Coptic church in Cairo, and one of the oldest Coptic churches in Egypt that is still in use.
The Hanging Church was probably built towards the end of the 7th Century AD, though it is believed there was an earlier church here dating to the 3rd or 4th Century. By the 11th Century AD it became the official seat of residence of the head of the Coptic Church (the Patriarch of Alexandria).
It is part of the Religion Compound
of Old Cairo
, and is known as the Hanging Church because it is built over the gate of the southern tower of the Roman Fortress
, Babylon on the Nile. Its nave is suspended over the passage (the church is known as al Muallaqa in Arabic, which means "the suspended"). Make sure you look down through the plastic viewing ports in the floor to see the proof that you are not actually on the ground!
The Hanging Church is lavishly decorated, with a beautiful vaulted wooden ceiling, marble columns and pulpit, and lots of ebony and ivory screens. It also contains over 100 religious icons, the oldest of which dates to the 8th Century. Services still take place here in the ancient Coptic language, believed to be related to ancient Egyptian.
The Hanging Church can be reached by taxi, or take the Metro to Mar Girgis station and the church is just in front of the station entrance.