A common space for harmonic peacemakers
2_ Cairo Churches: The Hanging Church
Apparently the church was originally built in a traditional basilican plan with three aisles, a narthex and tripartite sanctuary. Another chapel, built alter and known as the little church, was constructed over the eastern tower of the Babylon Fortress' south gateway. It now represents the oldest part of the remaining church. Later, during the 19th century, a fourth aisle was added.
The main body of the current church, with its notable timber wagon-vaulted roof, features a central nave and two narrow aisles separated by eight columns on each side. Between the nave and the north aisle is a row of three columns spanned by wide lancet arches. The columns between the aisles are made of white marble, with the exception of one built of black basalt. Some of the capitals are Corinthian, and so were probably removed from older buildings.
Within the nave was a tank, boarded up now, that once was used for foot washing on Maundy Thursday and on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. There is also a marble ambon (pulpit, that dates from the 11th century, though some of its white and colored marble may predate the pulpit itself. It surmounts fifteen graceful columns. The southern marble facade of the pulpit's steps is carved with a design showing a shell and a cross on stairs, representing the Resurrection of Christ.
There are three haikals (sanctuaries) within the eastern section of the church. The central one is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the northern (left) to Saint George, and the southern (right) one to Saint John the Baptist.
The central haikal screen, which is made of ebony inlaid with ivory and carved into segments showing fine geometric designs and crosses, dates from the 12th or 13th century and on the top of it are a row of seven large icons. The center of these icons depicts the Christ, seated on a throne. To his right is the Virgin Mary, the Archangle Gabriel and Saint Peter, while to his left are John the Baptist, the Archangle Michael and Saint Paul. Within this sanctuary, the altar is surmounted by a canopy supported by four columns, and behind the altar is a marble tribune where the clergy usually sit.
to be continued