• Saint Katherine’s Monastery

    Visit the Byzantine Monastery of St. Katherine, probably the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world and certainly one of the most iconic.

Among the most stunning and classic features of the Sinai’s rich historical landscape, the Monastery of St. Katherine is a UNESCO World Heritage site that stands in the shadow of Mt. Sinai, in the bottom of a rugged valley. It marks the spot where religious tradition holds that God spoke to Moses from a burning bush. The structure was built some 1500 years ago on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian; many scholars and historians believe thatSt. Katherine’s is the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world.

With its high walls and foreboding corner towers, the monastery may look more like a fortress than a religious institution from the outside. Within these walls, however, an atmosphere of sanctity and tranquility unfolds, especially outside busy visiting times.

The most significant building within the monastery walls is the Church of the Transfiguration. This church is home to the Chapel of the Burning Bush, which is considered by many to be the holiest spot in the Sinai and is also the location of the special sarcophagus in which St. Katherine’s remains are kept.

Next door to the church is a small mosque built in the 11th century for Muslim visitors.

The Monastery of St. Katherine remains a working institution and is home to around 20 Orthodox Christian monks who live much like previous generations of their predecessors, building their daily chores around periods of prayer and reflection.

The Bedouin Jebeliya tribe (Arabic for Mountain People) has played an important role in the monastery’s history and survival. Some clans within the tribe claim descent from European Christian soldiers sent to protect the monastery by the Emperor Justinian; and although they converted to Islam long ago, they have remained close to the monks to the present day. Many Jebeliya tribesmen are still employed by the monastery and have guarded it faithfully through recent periods of turbulence, honoring the same vow of protection their ancestors took in ancient times.

Along the Abraham Path in the:

MT. SINAI REGION


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Sites in the Mt. Sinai Region:

Ancient Leopard Traps

See the old leopard traps of the Sinai: on windswept mountain passes, hunters used these to trap leopards until the great animals’ disappearance in the 1950s.

Blue Desert

Discover a desert mountain where the rocks are painted blue. One of the Sinai’s most surreal landscapes, it commemorates Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.

Ein Hudera

Visit one of the Sinai’s most beautiful oases, a watering point on the old pilgrim route between Jerusalem and Mount Sinai and – according to some – the biblical Hazeroth.

Hajar al-Maktub

Examine a rock etched with graffiti by millennia of pilgrims as they passed between Jerusalem and the peak of Mount Sinai.

Mt. Katherina

Gaze out over the distant Red Sea from the peak of Egypt’s highest mountain, where legends claim that St. Catherine’s remains were found many centuries ago.

Mt. Sinai

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Wander the little-trodden corners of one of the holiest mountain peaks in the world, discovering chapels, mosques, and other remnants of past centuries of veneration.

Nawamis Tombs

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Explore the Sinai’s prehistoric nawamis tombs, burial chambers built by the early peoples of the peninsula with doorways facing the setting sun.

Orchards of St. Katherine

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Discover a unique part of Bedouin culture in the high mountain orchards of Saint Katherine – colorful islands of green in a rocky landscape of red mountains.