After four years of restoration work, the Hanging Church is set to officially reopen to the public in mid-October. Antiquities Minister Mamdouh El-Damati announced the reopening on Tuesday during his inspection tour around the different monuments of Mogamaa Al-Adian (religious compound), which includes the Amr Ibn Al-Ass Mosque, Ben Ezra Synagogue and a collection of churches.
This fourth-century edifice reached the end of its restoration in 2010 after 13 years of being hidden under iron scaffolding and piles of sand. Workers recovered the church and polished and strengthened its walls, ceilings and towers.
With its Basilica-style architecture on top of the Roman fortress of Babylon, the Hanging Church will greet its visitors and worshipers in mid-October.
During the tour, El-Damati announced that the adjacent church of Abu Serga will also be inaugurated in December after its restoration. He also declared that the entirety of Mogamaa Al-Adian is to be closed to traffic the same way El-Moez street was to provide serenity and divinity for its visitors and worshipers.
El-Damati described the awful condition of the streets surrounding the monuments as “shocking” and pledged to immediately contact Cairo’s governor to remove all of the garbage that is scattered all over the streets and external walls of the monuments.
Mohamed El-Sheikha, head of the projects section, told Ahram Online that the Hanging Church is safe and that all restoration works were carried out professionally and according to the latest technology.
He explained that the official inauguration was put on hold due to the lack of security in the aftermath of the January 2011 uprising but that now it is safe for Egyptians to celebrate its inauguration.
He went on to say that the Hanging Church, like other monuments located in heavily populated areas, was suffering from environmental hazards including air pollution, a high subsoil water level, a high rate of humidity, leakage of water from the outdated and a decayed 100-year-old sewage system. Other hazards include decorations of the church’s wooden ceiling being stained with smoke and the adverse effects of the 1992 earthquake, which resulted in more cracks on the church’s walls and foundation.
In 1997 the then Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) launched a comprehensive restoration project to preserve Egypt’s Coptic shrine and restore such a distinguished church to its original splendor.
The restoration work was carried out in three phases to reduce water leakage and strengthen the church’s foundations and the Babylon fortress to protect them from potential future damage. The walls were reinforced, missing and decayed stones were replaced and masonry cleaned and desalinated.
The decorations and icons of the church were also subjected to fine restoration in collaboration with Russian experts; new lighting and ventilation systems have also been installed