The Hanging Church is considered the oldest church in Old Cairo. It is known as “the hanging” because it was built on the ruins of two old towers that remained from an old fortress called the Fortress of Babylon. It was dedicated to The Virgin Mary and St. Dimiana. It dates back to the end of the 3rd Century A.D and the beginning of the 4th Century A.D, but it has been reconstructed and renovated several times since.
By the discovery, in 1984, of the scenes, on the western side of the right aisle of the church, which contained pagan Roman Gods, but layers of plaster had covered them, It was proved that The Hanging Church was built earlier and that it was Roman Temple that later was converted to a Roman Church, and at a later date still, it became a Coptic Church.
The hanging Church has played an important role in the history of the Coptic Church because it became the seat of the Patriarchs after transferring it from Alexandria to Al-Fustat. The 66th patriarch Anba Christodolos (1039-1079 A.D) was the first Pope to chant the Holy Liturgy in the church. This was maintained in El-Mullaka Church until the 14th Century, when it was transferred to Abu Sefein church.
The Hanging church, which measures 23.5 meters long, 18.5 meters wide and 9.5 meters high, can be reached by steps 29 steps. It became known to travelers during the 14th and 15th centuries as the "staircase church" because of these steps, which in turn lead to an open court. The entrance to the church lies in the south door in the east wall of the narthex, which an outer porch decorated with geometric and floral designs in relief applied to stucco. 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 French monk Vansleb, who was sent to Egypt in 1671 by King Louis XIV in order to study the state of the churches and the monasteries of Egypt, mentioned that he had seen on one of the walls of the Hanging Church, inscriptions written by the hand of the great Muslim commander Amr Ibn El-As, asking the Muslim people to treat this church with respect.