St Catherine's Monastery
Duration: Half Day
If you get the chance to explore the beautiful Sinai Peninsula during your holiday in Egypt, one of the most interesting landmarks in the region is the legendary Monastery of St Catherine. Steeped in history, it is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastery and the smallest diocese in the world.
This fascinating excursion includes a guided tour of the working monastery and its beautiful religious icons, as well as a visit to the reputed site of the famous Burning Bush, through which God spoke to Moses.
The fortified St Catherine Monastery lies on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula at the foot of Mount Sinai (or Mount Moses), which is believed to be the mountain on which Moses received the Ten Commandments from God, as recorded in the Old Testament. Built in the 6th century by the Emperor Justinian to protect the monks in the region, who were often under attack by the Saracens, and to honour the traditional site of the Burning Bush, the monastery is a defining feature of the Holy Land. This is the region through which Moses is said to have led his people to the Promised Land.
The monastery's actual name is the Monastery of the Transfiguration, although it is commonly known as St Catherine’s after being dedicated to the early Christian martyr St. Catherine, who was imprisoned by the Emperor Maxentius and then tortured to death for criticising his persecution of Christians. According to legend, angels then carried her body to Mount Sinai where she was laid to rest.
The entire area is sacred to three of the world’s religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) and is one of the most important centres of religious pilgrimage in the world. For this reason, St. Catherine's was dedicated an UNESCO World Heritage Site to protect its beautiful historic architecture and art.
Inside, the monastery houses an outstanding collection of religious icons, which date from the 6th to the 19th centuries. Among its treasures is one of the largest and most important collections of illuminated manuscripts in the world, as well as priceless early Christian art, magnificent icons of Monastic Eastern Art and many other awe-inspiring relics that portray the incredible talents of artists over the centuries. The value of this collection is believed to be second only to the Vatican’s.
Close by, you will also see the 6th century Chapel of the Burning Bush, which was reputedly constructed at the site where Moses witnessed the miracle recorded in the Old Testament.
At the end of the tour, lunch will be provided in a selected location nearby. On this trip you are advised to wear comfortable walking shoes and to bring your passport with you.
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