Known in the Arab world as al-Muallaqah “The Suspended” church, and by Christians as the Hanging Church its Cairo’s most famous Coptic church. The Church commemorates the Virgin Mary, and is named for its location above a gatehouse of Babylon Fortress, the Roman fortress in Old Cairo with its interior-nave suspended over a passage.
The church main entrance is approached by 29 steps and early Holy Land Christian Pilgrims nicknamed the church “the Staircase Church.” The Hanging Church was built in the 7th century, probably on the site of a previous 3rd century church for the soldiers of the bastion. It has been constructed many times since then, including a major renovation under Patriarch Abraham in the 10th century.
By 1047, the church became the official residence of the Coptic patriarchs of Alexandria having moved from Alexandria due to shifting of powers to Cairo after an Arab invasion to Egypt. The main décor such as the pulpit and screens are from the 13th century.
On a Holy Land tour to the Hanging Church you’ll find three sanctuaries on the east side, the middle one commemorates the Virgin Mary, on the left St. George, and the right named after John the Baptist. Inside the sanctuaries painted awnings are placed above the altars. A total of 110 icons are displaying in the Hanging Church, the oldest is the “Coptic Mona Lisa” dating back to the 8th century, which represents the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ and John the Baptist. Numerous altar icons date back to the 18th century A.D.
The Hanging Church is the location of several reported apparitions of Mary. She is said to have visited in a dream to the Coptic Pope Abraham in the 970’s AD in the story of how the Muqattam Mountain was moved by faith. After three days of fasting and prayer in front of the Virgin Mary painting depicted on a column in al-Moallaqa, the Virgin Mary appeared to Patriarch Abraham in a vision and told him what to do. The painting of the Virgin Mary exists in the church to this day. Al-Mu’izz was convinced of the truth of the Christian belief and allowed the Coptic Church certain privileges. Because of it’s beauty and rich history the Hanging Church in Cairo is a must stop for all Christian believers traveling to the Holy Land. You’ll be amazed and spiritually lifted.