Why Is It Called the Hanging Church?
The Hanging Church gained its name due to its abnormal position! As it was built on a 4th-century BC southern wall of the Roman fortress, Babylon’s gatehouse! Its nave is suspended over the passage. Among the Hanging Church’s facts dating back to the 5th century AD! From the 7th century to the 13th century AD, it served as the residence and the operating center of the Coptic patriarch! Further, it was the witness to many historically crucial events like general elections or religious ceremonies! Plus, the church was the home to believable miraculous events over the centuries.
The Hanging Church Location
The Hanging Church map illustrates the church located in Kom Ghorab, Old Cairo, Cairo Governorate.
How the Hanging Church Built?
The history of the Hanging Church shows it was primarily built using logs of palm trees and layers of stones above the Fortress of Babylon! It, also, contained a wooden roof in the shape of Noah’s ark. It is possibly one of the first churches to be constructed in a Basilic Style of architectural design. The Hanging Church is currently 30 ft. above the ground resting on 15 gracile columns. And it was enlarged and redesigned various times over the years.
Where’s the Hanging Church’s Significance Coming From
The Hanging Church contains a significant main entrance holding iron gates under a pointed stone arch and two twin bell towers! Those can be witnessed beyond a narrow courtyard decorated with incredible Biblical designs. The Hanging Church contains 110 enchanting icons representing holy characters in Christianity like Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, St Peters, and John the Baptist! Also, many archangels like Gabriel and Michael! The oldest icon dates back to the 8th century.
The Eastern Side of the Hanging Church
The inside East of the Hanging Church is the most outstanding among all the site’s four inside directions! The holy Coptic place was constructed to honor Mary the Virgin! Lies in the embrace of the church from the East are three gracious sanctuaries. They were built to commemorate her alongside the other two saints’! The first is Saint George and the other is John the Baptist!
The centric one belongs to Mary while the one on the left hand is for St. George and John the Baptist's on the right! Still in the East, one of the Hanging Church’s walls unfolds the curtains on one epic scene of what seems to be a flanked Jesus with the Apostles encircling him! Later on, the Hanging Church underwent reestablishment procedures and a scene presenting the Christ Nativity was freshly discovered!
The Hanging Church Centric Altar
The main altar is an undivided part of the Hanging Church’s history that’s made of ebony mixed fancily with ivory! It’s decorated in rich Coptic cross designs with a history belonging to the twelfth or thirteenth century. The inside of the church bath in bone and ivory luxurious designs inspired by the geometric schemes of Islamic Art. Further, a number of fancily-painted baldachins can be found placed just at the head of the altar! Steps away from the altar, there’s the ethereal pulpit that belongs to the 5th century and lays comfortably on fifteen gracious gracile pillars! You also can spot a cross nestled there counting three steps, as a presentation for the 3 days of Christ being in his tomb as well as his resurrection!
The Hanging Church as the Pope’s Seat
Another piece of information about the Hanging Church is becoming the official home to the Coptic Pope of Alexandria in 1047 after his previous one was the City of Alexandria! It’s a thing that happened after the ruling powers transferred to Cairo through the reign of Pope Christodolos!
How Many Icons Are in the Hanging Church
Another fact about the Hanging Church that ties together its rare value with everlasting strong threads is the number of 115 distinctive icons hosted inside! The whole collection of icons has been prominent for the “Coptic Mona Lisa” icon of the 18th century A.D. that relates to Jesus Christ, Mary Virgin, and John the Baptist! Another group of fifteen icons showcased within the Hanging Church is about the torture and the life course of Jesus! Embraced also by the church are other seven icons providing perception into John the Baptist’s life! One more outstanding icon can be found inside in the South and belongs to St. Mark, the first Coptic Orthodox Church’s Patriarch!
The Wooden Screen of the Hanging Church
The Wooden Screen inside the Hanging Church is among the most extravagantly decorated pieces that hold the church’s uniqueness in place! It has a compound of substances in its decoration between lush ebony and fancy ivory set together in a geometric manner! The Wooden Screen has a share of icons decorating it as well! In the heart of the screen, your eyes can hold icons for crowned Jesus while Mary Virgin is presented on the left, side by side with St. Peter and Archangel Gabriel! And toward the right, your eyes will be met with Archangel Michael, John the Baptist as well as St. Paul! It’s worthy of mentioning, further, it’s safe to say the Wooden Screen added more power to the church’s remarkable position in Old Cairo for all the details it holds!
The Hanging Church and Its Impact on Old Cairo
The Hanging Church, accompanied by the other Coptic worshipping centers in Old Cairo, has been an undeniable fragment of the grace that Old Cairo has been known for transmitting! However, one more crucial fragment that added to the essence of Old Cairo is the Islamic Religion centers there, A.K. A. Old Cairo’s mosques! Both religious centers show what glorious value Old Cairo can draw to travelers!
Maybe that was the reason for setting up all those different centers of worship in Old Cairo from the beginning; to show sophisticated art and rare value together at the same time leaking only from one place! And if there any place was able to convey how much effort the architects invested and to what extent they went on with their stamina in building those sites is the Hanging Church! Starting from its painted details to the multiple scenes inside portraying three of the most graceful figures in the Coptic Religion!
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