The Hanging Church
The Coptic Quarter
Old Cairo (Misr El-Qadima)
Mari Girguis Metro Station
Mass: Friday from 8-11 am and Sunday from 7-10 am
The Hanging Church (El Muallaqa, Sitt Mariam,
St Mary) is built on top of southern tower gate of the
Babylon fortress, thus the name, which literally
translates from Arabic into 'suspended'.
The church was built and rebuilt a number of
times, first in the 3rd or 4th century and finally in
the 11th century when it became the seat of the Coptic
patriarch until the 14th century.
The church has
seven sanctuaries, six off the side aisles and one in
the Church of St. Mark's on the upper level. Joint to
the Hanging Church are six churches and a monastery.
Some of the finest examples of old
craftsmanship can be seen in the Hanging Church:
screens, pulpits and columns, in cedar, ebony and
walnut inlaid with ivory, and in marble .The Hanging
Church houses a collection of over one hundred icons,
including one of the Virgin and Child dating back to
the 10th century, the oldest of which dates from the
8th Century. Many icons, manuscripts and artifacts
belonging to the church have been moved to the Coptic
Museum over time.
In testament to the church's historical and
religious value, UNESCO donated 50 million Egyptian
Pounds some years ago for restoration work in the
church, which was on the verge of collapse from rising
Today, the Hanging Church is one of the few
places were mass can be heard in the ancient
liturgical Coptic language, which is believed to be
the closest to the that spoken in ancient Egyptian.
Plan one day for your tour of the Coptic
Quarter, including the Hanging Church. As in all other
places of worship, modest dress is required.