The Hanging Church Overview

Pay a visit to the Hanging Church, the oldest church in Cairo, located atop the gatehouse of Old Cairo's Roman fortress. Built in the 3rd century, it houses over 100 icons, each telling a story of faith and history. Its unique 'suspended' design and sacred ambience draw visitors into a timeless spiritual journey. The church is a must-see for those exploring Egypt's rich Christian heritage.

Also known as the Church of the Virgin Mary, the Hanging Church is located in the heart of Old Cairo. It is a major symbol of Coptic Christianity in the city. The church is built atop the ruins of the Babylon Fortress. Its unique position above a gatehouse makes it seem like the church is hanging in mid-air. It is due to this position that the church is often called "Al-Muallaqa" or "The Suspended." This architectural wonder dates back to the late 3rd century. It also showcases the rich history and religious significance of the area, blending beautifully with its ancient surroundings.

The church is renowned for its stunning interior, adorned with over 100 holy icons and intricate designs. The entrance is a highlight, guarded by iron gates under a pointed stone arch. The twin bell towers and the façade are equally beautiful and are decorated with modern biblical art. Inside, you can find the wooden roof, which is shaped like Noah's Ark. You can also see the church's marble pulpit supported by 13 columns, symbolising Jesus and his disciples. 

Famous for being one of the oldest Christian worship sites in Egypt, the Hanging Church is also a significant symbol of the rich Coptic heritage. Visitors and pilgrims alike are drawn to this sacred site for its historical and architectural grandeur. Additionally, the church also attracts visitors for the peace and inspiration it offers amidst the bustling city of Cairo.

Location: Kom Ghorab, Old Cairo, Cairo Governorate, Egypt

Timings: Coptic Mass: 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM

        Wednesday to Friday: 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM

        Sunday: 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM


• Climb the 29 stone steps to reach the iconic entrance of the Hanging Church in Old Cairo.
• Marvel at the church's unique position, seemingly floating above the Roman fortress.
• Gaze upon the 110 exquisite icons that represent the holy Christian figures, some dating back to the 8th century.
• Admire the intricately carved wooden screen that separates the sanctuary from the nave, blending art and spirituality.
• Discover the church's architectural marvels, including its wooden roof shaped like Noah's Ark.

How To Reach

By Metro: The most convenient way to reach the church is by metro. From the city centre, take the Line 1 metro to Mar Girgis metro station. Upon exiting the station, you can walk to the church in less than 2 minutes. 

By Car/ Taxi: You can also reach the museum via car or taxi. From the city centre, Coptic Cairo is 6.4 kilometres away. A drive to the museum will take around 15 to 20 minutes. From the city centre, drive to the junction of the Mar Girgis and Kasr Al Shama'e streets. From here, the church is a 1-minute walk away.

By River Bus: You can also take the river bus from Maspero dock to Misr al-Qadimah in Old Cairo. From Misr al-Qadimah, the church is 650 metres away, which will take under 5 minutes.

Best Time To Visit

The Hanging Church welcomes visitors all year round. It offers a unique glimpse into Coptic Christian heritage any day you choose to visit.

Best Day: Opt for a weekday visit to enjoy a more tranquil atmosphere. This allows you to fully absorb the church's architectural beauty and spiritual peace without the hustle and bustle of large crowds. However, it is important to note that the Coptic Mass is held from 08:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. On Sundays, the timings are from 09:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. 

Best Time of the Day: Early mornings, especially from 09:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., are ideal for a visit. These hours let you explore the church in a quieter setting, with the soft morning light enhancing its ancient icons and intricate designs.

Other Essential Information

Tips for visiting The Hanging Church

1. Dress modestly out of respect, and cover your knees and shoulders.

2. Carry minimal cash and valuables while exploring the area for safety.

3. Use insect repellent, especially in the evenings, to avoid mosquito bites.

4. Explore with a local guide to enhance your visit and ensure safety.

5. Photography inside may be restricted, so it is best to seek permission first.

6. Enjoy the surrounding area but remain cautious and travel in groups at night.

7. Respect the serene atmosphere by keeping noise levels down and phones on silent.

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Point of Interest for The Hanging Church
Explore the Icons of Faith

Explore the Icons of Faith

Dive into the spiritual heart of the Hanging Church by admiring its collection of over 100 icons. Among these, the "Coptic Mona Lisa" stands out, an 8th-century masterpiece that portrays the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, and John the Baptist. The vivid colours and intricate designs of each icon embody stories of saints and biblical narratives. They also offer insights into the history of the Coptic faith. These icons also reflect the centuries-old devotion of the Coptic community, serving as a living testimony to their deep-rooted heritage.

Witness the Architectural Marvel

Witness the Architectural Marvel

Standing on what seems like air, the Hanging Church offers a unique architectural experience. Built atop the Babylon Fortress gatehouse, its structure defies the ordinary, seeming to suspend in mid-air. The church's foundation, built upon palm logs and stone, showcases the innovative engineering of its time. Its basilican structure is adorned with elaborate woodwork resembling Noah's Ark. The facade, a 19th-century addition, features twin bell towers that showcase Coptic craftsmanship. As you ascend the 29 steps, feel the history beneath your feet, where architecture and divinity intertwine.

Discover the Pulpit's Secrets

Discover the Pulpit's Secrets

The marble pulpit of the Hanging Church is not only a symbol of religious teachings but also a marvel of medieval artistry. Each of the 13 columns, crafted from marble, symbolizes Christ and His apostles. The black column is especially significant, symbolizing Judas's betrayal, while the grey one symbolises Thomas's doubt. The pulpit dates back to the era of craftsmanship under the Fatimid Caliphate. Furthermore, the strategic placement of the pulpit takes you on a journey back in time, offering spiritual lessons embedded in its construction.

Feel the Tranquillity in the Sanctuaries

Feel the Tranquillity in the Sanctuaries

Spend some time in the sanctuaries within the Hanging Church, which resonate with the prayers and hymns of centuries. The central sanctuary, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, houses an altar of unparalleled beauty. It is made of fine marble and surrounded by icons that narrate her life and virtues. Adjacent sanctuaries honour St. George, with relics and paintings depicting his martyrdom, and John the Baptist, celebrated through liturgical texts and sacred art. These sacred spaces, with their serene ambience and sacred artefacts, invite you to a moment of peace and reflection. 

Step Back in Time in the Baptistery

Step Back in Time in the Baptistery

Visit the ancient baptistery of the Hanging Church, which is an important relic of early Christian rites. It also serves as a link to the baptismal traditions of the Coptic faith. The deep basin is carved from a single block of granite and showcases the artistic heritage of the Coptic Church. It is a symbol of purification, with beautiful inscriptions and motifs decorating it. They offer insights into the religious practices of early Coptic Christians. Stand by the baptistery and feel the echoes of the past, a bridge to the early Christian community.

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