Monday, May 29, 2017

Saint Katherine: A Trilogy of beauty, serenity and safety - Egypt Today
Sainte Katherine Monastery - Creative Commons Via Wikimedia

Saint Katherine: A Trilogy of beauty, serenity and safety

Mon, May. 29, 2017

CAIRO – 29 May 2017: Saint Katherine is located in South Sinai on a plateau about 1,600 meters above sea level. The city receives tourists from different nationalities to visit the oldest constantly inhabited monastery in the world, built on the site where Moses (Prophet Musa) talked to God and received the Ten Commandments on a mountain known as Jebel Musa (Musa Mountain). Jebel Musa is one of the highest mountains in Egypt at 2,285 meters above sea level.

St. Katherine's Monastery was protected by Prophet Mohammed, Arab and Turkish leaders and Napoleon, which helped to preserve it virtually undamaged. In the walled compound, there is a Fatimid mosque built next to the Orthodox Church, a rare coexistence of religions in today's world. The monastery contains a library that has the largest religious collection along with the Vatican. The most common route to the peak of Jebel Musa is from the monastery via the "Steps of Repentance."

Saint Katherine is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its natural and cultural importance. In addition to the monastery, it contains over 200 attractions including churches, ruins of Byzantine monastic settlements, and the highest mountains in Egypt with spectacular views and amazing rock formations and landscape.

Apart from the many religious places found around the monastery and on the top of Jebel Musa, there are many other historical places such as the palace of Abbas Hilmi I Pasha, in addition to a whole range of medicinal plants, water pools, springs, and wide valleys.

Visitors come to the city either in organized tours or independently. Mainly, tourists come from Sharm el-Sheikh, Taba and Dahab to have dinner at night, then climb the mountain and visit the monastery in the morning. People visiting independently are usually keen to avoid busy times on the mountain and to calmly discover the uniqueness of the city.

Besides tourism, the city includes several schools, a hospital, police, and hotels of various standards. Until 1980, only the Bedouin people and the monks from the monastery lived there. The natives in the area are the people of the mountains who have been living in the region since the foundation of St. Katherine's Monastery. They were brought from the Black Sea region in the 6th century AD to protect and serve the monastery. Along the centuries they intermarried with other Arab tribes and became Muslims.
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