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Monastery of St. Katherine

In 330 AD, the mother of Emperor Constantine, Empress Helena, ordered the construction of a small church near Moses’ Burning Bush. It was called the Church of the Transfiguration. The fortified Monastery of St Katherine seen today was built around the church during the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-565 AD). In the 11th century, the monastery was dedicated to St Katherine of Alexandria, who died in 310 AD. Her remains, reportedly found by monks on a mountain peak next to Mount Sinai, are buried in the monastery’s Basilica.

Mount Sinai in the morning

Fronted by gardens and cypress tress, the monastery is owned and run by the Greek Orthodox Church. Its rich library houses the world’s second largest collection of illuminated manuscripts after the Vatican, and also contains invaluable icons, beautifully-carved doors, exquisite wall paintings and other fine religious ornaments. Within the monastery’s towering walls, one of the world’s finest and most unique collections of Christian artifacts has been made more accessible to the public.

Mount Sinai in the morning

                       MOUNT SINAI
Mount Sinai, just south of the Monastery of St Katherine, is of great religious importance to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. According to the Old Testament, this is where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Throughout the centuries, the mountain has drawn thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. Visitors can ascend to the summit (7497 ft) either by climbing the ‘ancient route’ - some 4000 steps built by monks - or by following an easier but longer path. Both lead to an open area known as Elija’s Basin, where it is necessary to walk up the remaining 750 steps to the top. At the summit, is the Chapel of the Holy Trinity built in 1934 on the site of a much earlier chapel built in 363 AD. The climb takes about three hours but the view from the top is truly breathtaking, especially at sunrise.

Monastery of St.Katherine

Again, underwater activities are the main attraction in Nuweiba. Shallow reefs create interesting locations for snorkeling; and diving sites include Ras Burka, Big Ruta, Devil’s Head and Maagana to name but a few.
Opportunities exist, too, for trekking, either by camel or jeep, into the astounding Sinai interior or through the coastline mountains. Highlights include St Katherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai, the Coloured Canyon, or a visit to some of the oases in the area.

Mount Sinai in the morning

A small, yet extraordinary, nine-room museum referred to as ‘The Sacred Sacristy’ has now been opened to display many masterpieces.

Among the tastefully-displayed exhibits are exquisite 6th century Byzantine icons, delicate 9th century manuscripts written in Syriac, rare Slavonic prayer books, and splendid objects of silver, gold, ivory and precious stones. Perhaps the most valued items on exhibit, presented in a special glass case, are pages from the Codex Sinaiticus, a 4th century version of the Bible that now rests in the British Museum.

Monastery of St.Katherine


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