The church of the Virgin Mary has become known as the hanging church because it was built on top of a 4th century BC on the southern wall of a Roman fortress of Babylon. The church is also referred to as the suspended church or the Staircase Church or Al-Moallaqa as its nave is suspended over the passage. The church dates back to the 5th century AD and from the 7th century to the 13th century AD, it served as the residence of the Coptic patriarch where it witnessed many historically decisive events like general elections and religious ceremonies, which makes it one of the oldest and important Christian landmarks in Egypt.
The initial construction of the hanging church was built using logs of palm trees and layers of stones above the ruins of the ancient Roman fortress and also contains a wooden roof in the shape of Noah’s ark. It is designed in a basilican style of architecture. The hanging church is currently 30 ft above the ground resting on 15 gracile columns which made it tower all of its surroundings back in the day. The hanging church was changed and enlarged over the years. The main entrance of the church contains iron gates under a pointed stone arch and two twin bell towers that can be seen beyond a narrow courtyard decorated with artistic biblical designs.
The hanging church contains 110 marvelous icons representing the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, St Peters, and many archangels like Gabriel and Michael, and the oldest icon dates back to the 8th century. The main altar is made of ebony inlaid with ivory and decorated in craved Coptic cross designs that date back to the 12th or 13th centuries. The entire interior of the church is covered with bone and ivory inlaid designs that are heavily influenced by the geometric designs of Islamic art.
For all these reasons alone, this church is indeed the most beautiful of all and every traveler shouldn’t miss such an attraction during their vacation in Egypt. If you are in Cairo and prefer to visit the hanging church, then our Egypt vacation private tours are your best choice to explore everything Egypt has to offer in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan.
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