St. Catherine's Monastery ....

The majestic Sinai Mountains embrace one of the oldest monasteries in the world, Saint Catherine's Monastery, which is located at the top of an inhabited area in Sinai, 1600 meters above sea level, surrounded by a group of the highest mountains in Egypt including Mount Catherine, Mount Moses, and Mount Safsafa, and features a mild climate summers, very cold winters where snow covers mountain peaks.

Saint Catherine is the largest nature reserve in Egypt in terms of size, amounting to 5130 square kilometers, it is also a tourist destination attracting crowds of travelers from all over the world to visit religious monuments, safari in the desert and mountain climbing, the monastery is a unique piece of art that combines Arabic mosaics and inscriptions in Russian and Greek and frescoes.

Saint Catherine monastery boasts many treasures and the world's most famous religious symbols including the Mount Musa, the tomb of the Prophet Aaron and Moses shrub, plus a lot of valuable gifts that were sent by Kings and Princes of the world, it also contains a library of manuscripts, said to be the second largest manuscript libraries after the Vatican, and the remains of all the monks who lived in the monastery in addition the remains of Saint Catherine.

The monastery dates back to the year 530 CE, when the Byzantine empress Helena ordered to be built, but Emperor Justinian was actually built between 545 AD, this name returns to Saint Catherine who was born in Alexandria at the end of the third century AD, and converted to Christianity early so the Emperor Maximinus persecuted her and ordered her killed, and after five centuries, a monk found her body on a mountaintop in Sinai, transferred to Transfiguration Church and launched her name on the monastery and the whole city.

-Church of Transfiguration

The focal point is in the convent, was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian ordered the son of the Empress Helena, the Church has elaborate carvings on a huge wooden door leads to a huge hall, that cover its walls with religious paintings, visitors can see the golden mihrab dating from 1612, wonderful ornate coffin containing the remains of Saint Catherine.

-Moses shrub

Saint Catherine's monastery built around a tree that was said to be the Moses' tree which caught on fire and guided Moses to speak to his god, this tree does not grow anywhere else outside the monastery where attempts were made to farming but failed.

-Museum of the Monastery

To the West of the Transfiguration Church there are stairs leading to the magnificent monastery museum which is known as the Holy Treasury, contains collections of religious manuscripts value plus the 12th century painting, and one of the oldest copies of the Bible in the world.

- The mosque

This mosque was built in the 11th century during the Fatimid era, is located opposite the Transfiguration Church, has a separate minaret was built of granite and contains three niches and a wooden platform dating back to the Fatimid.

- The library

Located on the third floor of an old building south of the Church, made up of three rooms containing thousands of books and manuscripts, plus 2000 of papyrus scrolls written in multiple languages such as Arabic, Greek, Coptic, Syriac, Slavonic, Armenian, Georgian, and Hebrew. The Abbey library holdings the most important collection of the first edition books of Plato and Homer.
The Abbey is open daily from 9:00 am until noon, then closed its doors to visitors for the monks to dedicate their religious duties.

-Mount St. Catherine

The highest mountain in the Sinai, where 2642 meters high, climbing to the top of the mountain requires good physical fitness, and at the top sits a chapel, visitors can see the Gulf of Aqaba to the southeast and the Arabian mountains.

-Mount Moses

This mountain high 2285 m, reaching his peak is a trek takes about four hours by two ways, one by steep road of about 2500 degrees stone and the other a gravel path at the end of 500 degrees, the summit contains a small church was built in 1930 and a small mosque, plus a great view of the surrounding mountain tops that float above the clouds, and visitors are advised to take the mountain before sunrise.


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