The Coptic Cairo

The Babylonian capital

For almost two millennia, specifically in the middle of the second century AD, the Roman Emperor Trajan ordered the construction of a fortified castle to secure Roman military protection. This castle served as the first line of defense against any potential uprisings from the south or north, and was strategically located in the middle of Egypt, connecting the northern coast to the southern desert. The Roman Emperor Arcadius later reinforced and expanded it in the fourth century AD, according to the Coptic scholar Marqus Samiqa Basha.


The Babylon Fortress has a significant historical importance that extends to the Islamic conquest of Egypt. In 641 AD, “Amr ibn al-As” led an army to Egypt, and after a seven-month siege, the fortress fell into the hands of Amr ibn al-As, marking the beginning of the Islamic rule in Egypt.

Some narratives suggest that the name of the fortress was inspired by the Babylonian capital. According to a story, when the pharaoh Senusret defeated the Babylonians, he brought prisoners to Egypt to enslave them, but they rebelled and built a fortress to defend themselves. Since then, it has been named Babylon.


Another name for the fortress is “Al-Shamaa Palace,” which is derived from an ancient tradition. At the beginning of each month, the towers of the fortress were decorated with candles, allowing people to follow the movement of the sun from one tower to another when they were lit.


The Babylon Fortress has a strategic and unique location in the Old Cairo district of Fustat, next to the Coptic Museum. It was chosen for its control of the eastern desert road and its military significance. It is also close to the Nile and controls the road leading to the northern and southern coasts, serving as a shield against any protest or revolt.


The area of the fortress is about 500 square meters, and stones from Pharaonic temples were used in its construction, which were then completed by red bricks. Currently, only the north gate of the fortress and two large towers remain. One of the towers has a suspended church built on top of it, while the other has the Roman St. George Church. Several other churches and religious sites are located inside the fortress, including the Abu Serga Church, the Virgin Qasr al-RihanChurch, and the St. George Monastery for nuns.

The Hanging Church

Is one of the most famous and oldest Coptic monuments in Egypt, distinguished by its rare architectural style, making it one of the most beautiful churches in the Middle East. It also represents the first headquarters of the Patriarchs in Cairo.

Located in the Old Cairo district on Mar Girgis Street, near the Temple of Ezra the Jew and Amr Ibn Al-As Mosque, the church is named “Hanging” because it was built on two towers of the ancient Roman fortress known as “Babylon Fortress”. This fortress was built during the reign of Emperor Trajan in the 2nd century AD, and the church was built at a height of 13 meters above ground level, with a length of 23 meters, width of 18.5 meters, and height of 9.5 meters. It was built in the late 4th and early 5th centuries AD.


This church represents the first Patriarchal headquarters in Cairo, since the 16th Patriarch, known as “Kyrillos II”, made the church his residence. Many patriarchs from the 11th and 12th centuries were buried in this church, and many trials of priests and bishops were also held here.

Rectangular in shape, the church features a basilica style with three wings and a structure distributed over three parts – the main sanctuary and two smaller wings, each with eight columns on either side. The church is adorned with Corinthian-style column capitals, reminiscent of ancient Greek architecture.

The Hanging Church is a testament to the rich history and culture of Egypt, standing proudly as a symbol of the country’s enduring legacy.

The church also has three structures on the east side of the church.

The structure on the right is named “St. John the Baptist”, the one on the left is named “St. Mary George”, and the one in the middle is named “St. Mary the Virgin”. Additionally, the church is adorned with a collection of column capitals that are characterized by the “Corinthian” style, a decorative column design that was developed in ancient Greece.

In the late Umayyad period (749 AD), the buildings of the church were damaged, and they were restored during the reign of Harun al-Rashid, as mentioned in the biography of Anba Marcos in the history of the patriarchs, who also rebuilt all the churches in the area at that time.

The Hanging Church underwent its first restoration process in 1998, which included treating the effects of rising groundwater levels on the church, as well as restoring the church’s Icons and murals. The building of this church was also renewed during the reign of Al-Aziz Billah Al-Fatimi, when Patriarch Afram El- Syrian was allowed to renew all the churches in Egypt, including those that had been destroyed.

Saint Barbara church

Holds a significant place in the Coptic Orthodox Church as one of the most venerated saints.

This is a historic church belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Church located in the Babylon Fortress area of Cairo, Egypt. The church was originally founded in the 5th century AD and was rebuilt several times, most notably at the end of the 11th century AD. The church suffered damage in later centuries and was completely restored in the early 20th century.

The Church of St. Barbara Is located within the walls of the Babylon Fortress and is about one meter and forty-two centimeters below ground level. It can be accessed by descending several steps on a stone staircase. The church is rectangular in shape, with a flat surface length of about twenty-six and a half meters and a width of about fourteen and a half meters.

The Church of Abu Serga

It’s also known as the Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus, is located in the Old Cairo area near the Babylon Fortress. It is believed to have been built on the site where the Holy Family stayed during their flight to Egypt.

The church Is considered one of the oldest and most important Christian sites in Egypt, and it has undergone many renovations and restorations over the centuries. The current structure dates back to the 8th century AD, and it features a unique architectural style that blends elements of Coptic, Byzantine, and Islamic design.

Inside the church, visitors can see a number of ancient artifacts and artwork, including frescoes, icons, and beautifully decorated columns. One of the most famous features of the church is the crypt, where it is believed that the Holy Family took refuge during their time in Egypt.

The Church of Abu Serga Is an important pilgrimage site for Coptic Christians, and it is also a popular tourist destination for visitors to Egypt who are interested in exploring the country’s rich cultural and religious history.

Remains of the church, such as engraved stones and a door that reflects the beauty of Coptic art in the 4th century, were found and transferred to the Coptic Museum.

The Coptic Museum

of Coptic Christianity in Egypt date back to the visit of Saint Mark to the city of Alexandria in the first century AD. The displayed artifacts reflect the blending of Coptic art with prevailing cultures, including Pharaonic, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman, and how it evolved to have its own identity and character.

The large collection In the museum includes beautifully decorated manuscripts, icons, intricately carved wooden works, and finely crafted frescoes adorned with religious scenes, all of which have been preserved from ancient monasteries and churches. The Coptic Museum is an Important cultural and historical landmark in Egypt and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the rich history and heritage of the Coptic Church and its role in shaping Egyptian culture.

The Monastery of Saint George

The Roman is a historic monastery located next to the Coptic Museum, adjacent to the Hanging Church, and near the historic Amr Ibn Al-As Mosque.

The main church of the monastery is the only circular church in Egypt that was built in the 7thcentury AD on top of the Roman tower of the Babylon fortress.

The monastery was built by the wealthy writer Athanasius in the year 684 AD. It was founded in the early centuries of Christianity, on top of a tower of the ancient Roman Babylon fortress, and it is one of the unique archaeological buildings in the Middle East and a sacred part of Egyptian land because it is one of the places visited by the Holy Family during their refuge in Egypt. Under the Virgin Mary’s rest church, located in the middle of the monastery’s graves for Orthodox Romans, there is a water well where the Holy Family lived according to the church’s tradition. According to the monastery’s tradition, Saint George was imprisoned there.

The monastery Is not only an important historical monument for the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt, but it is also one of the most important Christian religious landmarks in Africa, where thousands of Christians and visitors come to pray, as well as Muslims seeking blessings, especially on the feast of Saint George’s birth on April 23rd of each year.

The monastery is known among Egyptians as a place to fulfill wishes, as there is a miraculous icon of Saint George inside the main church.

The monastery is characterized by a collection of icons of saints that date back to the 11th to the 15th centuries, and seven small churches representing the days of the week. It also has two Roman towers that the Nile River used to pass through, and it contains the oldest measuring device for the Nile River under the tower of the church.

The monastery contains artifacts from different eras and times, as well as a rare icon of the Virgin Mary named the Virgin of Cairo.