Alexandria became the residence of the Bishop of Alexandria during the beginnings of Christianity in Egypt. Alexandria continued to be the residence of the patriarchs of the See of St. Mark as late as the 11th century when Patriarch Christodoulus (1047-1077) definitively transferred his residence to the Mo‘allaqa Church at Old Cairo to be closer to Egypt’s ruler. However, Alexandria has remained in the official title of the Coptic patriarchs to the present-day: “Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.”
For them, the great city of Alexandria is a most holy site, where St. Mark the Evangelist began to preach the Gospel, founded the Church of Alexandria, and suffered martyrdom. We know a number of “temporary” papal residences other than Alexandria: the Monastery of St. Macarius in Wadi al-Natrun, the village of Mahallat Danyal near Kafr al-Sheikh, the town of Damru near al Mahalla al-Kubra, and the town of Tuch in the Delta.
The Church of St. Mercurius at Old Cairo was the residence of Patriarch Michael (1145-1146). Patriarch John VIII (1300-1320) transferred the patriarchal seat to the Church of the Holy Virgin at Haret Zuwaila in Cairo, which remained the seat of the Coptic patriarchs until 1660. Matthew IV (1660-1675) resided at Haret al-Rum, Cairo. Patriarch Mark VIII (1796-1809) resided at the old Cathedral of St. Mark in Azbakiyah, Cairo. The Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo, which was inaugurated in 1968, is the patriarchal residence of the present patriarch, Shenouda III.