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The Hanging Church

The Hanging Church

The Hanging Church history (al-Moallaqa)

The Hanging Church destroyed several times, notably in the 9th century during a conflict between the governor of Egypt and the Coptic patriarch.

Rebuilt around 975, it was the seat of the Coptic patriarchate.

Transferred from Alexandria by Patriarch Christodule (1047-1077).

For two centuries, the building was therefore at the heart of the Coptic Church.

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The Hanging Church

Why was the Church built?

Hanging Church became a center for theological, philosophical, legal and scientific studies.

Several legends attached to The Hanging Church.

According to one of them, the Holy Family stopped there during the flight into Egypt.

The sources sometimes mention Balthazar, Click to read Coptic Cairo

One of the Magi as the founder, they also often cite the riches contained in The Hanging Church Cairo:

Objets for art, fabrics made of gold thread, priestly vestments made of silk, and censers made of gold and silver.

why is it called the hanging church?

The Hanging Church Egypt located in Old Cairo, above the southern portal of the Citadel of Babylon.

At a height of thirteen meters, hence its nickname “hanging church”.

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When was the Hanging Church built?

Built-in the 5th or 6th century next to an Old Cairo Hanging Church (3rd or 4th century).

The Hanging Church


The Hanging Church plan

Access to the building is via a large staircase, located in an inner courtyard.

The west facade laid out on two levels:

A wooden colonnade topped by a balustrade, topped by a slightly recessed level opened by three pointed arch windows.

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A triangular pediment marked with an oculus surmounts the central window.

Before the entrance moved to the south facade.

The worshipper walked through a wide narthex surrounded by two stairwells before entering the worship space.

This follows a basilical plan with four naves, Click to know more about Cairo Day Tour to Old Coptic Cairo

One of which added to the other three late in the restoration of Ubayd Abî Khuzâm in 1775.

The naves separated by white marble columns, except for one in black basalt, all surmounted by Corinthian capitals.

Each of the three ancient naves leads to an altar in front of a semicircular apse.

The main one, in the center dedicated to the Virgin and those at the sides to St John the Baptist and St George.

On the south side opens the primitive church, transformed into a chapel dedicated to an Ethiopian saint, Takla Haymanut.

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The materials that used in building the Church

The decoration uses mainly wood and marble.

Outside, mashrabiya fill the windows and form the balustrade overlooking the colonnade.

This technique, which consists of assembling small coils of turned wood.

Was a specialty of Cairo from the Ottoman period onwards, the panels thus formed used to mask the windows.

They also found in a large part of the Islamic world, for example in Istanbul and the Maghreb.

The facade under the porch decorated with colored marble inlays

That recall the ablaq decorations frequently used under the Mamluks.

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Inside Hanging Church

Inside, wood used for the iconostasis, made of ebony and ivory, which features cross motifs and geometric elements.

The partition separating the chapel from Takla Haymanut, which dates from the 10th century made of wood and mother-of-pearl.

Other wooden panels including the lintel of the doorway, and carved with scenes

From the life of Christ and an inscription in Greek, are on deposit in the Coptic Museum in Cairo.

Paintings supposed to cover the columns and walls of the building, but few traces have survived.

On one of the columns, a saint can still see.

In the chapel, on the other hand, there is a representation of Christ in the midst of the apostles

Or the old men of the Apocalypse and a Virgin and Child, and recently discovered.

Finally, the marble pulpit which stands in the center of the church and rests on fifteen columns is worthy of note.