29 May 2024 02:19 AM

St. Catherine city

Tuesday، 21 November 2023 - 09:46 PM
St. Catherine city

St. Catherine city is the most special and distinguished city in Sinai, and it is the highest inhabited place in Sinai, as it is located on a plateau that rises 1600 meters above sea level, and is surrounded by a group of mountains that are the highest in Sinai and even in all of Egypt, and the highest is the summit of Mount Catherine, Mount Moses, Mount Safsafa, and others.

This elevation made it a distinct climate as well, as it is moderate in the summer and very cold in the winter, which gives it beauty, especially when snow covers the mountain tops. The area has been declared as a natural reserve.

Historically, it is an area of ​​great importance, and another historical, cultural and religious dimension was added to it when the monastery, now known as St. Catherine's Monastery, was built there in the sixth century AD. It is still one of the greatest Christian monuments in Egypt and the world.

This distinction in location and climate, in history and geography has been reflected in the present of St. Catherine, which is a tourist area of ​​a special nature. Also it has been known with  an agricultural area due to the availability of groundwater resources.

St. Catherine is located in the heart of South Sinai, 300 km from the Suez Canal. It covers an area of ​​5130 square kilometers.

The city is famous for religious tourism, safari tourism and mountain climbing. And there is the Monastery of St. Catherine, Mount Moses, the shrine of the Prophet Harun and other religious monuments.

And there are a number of major tourism projects. It is considered the largest natural reserve in the Arab Republic of Egypt in terms of area.

Religious tourism: Religious tourism is at the lead of the types of tourism that the city enjoys, and the Monastery of St. Catherine represents an important shrine for tourists who yearn for religious tourism, and it was built in the sixth century AD.

St. Catherine's Monastery: Since the early Christian times, South Sinai has been considered one of the most important attractions for Christian monks. These monks established many monasteries and churches in the Sinai valleys, the most famous of which remains is the Mount Sinai Monastery, known as St. Catherine’s Monastery.

The monastery is located at the bottom of Mount Sinai, in a rugged mountainous area, endowed with breathtaking beauty by nature, with a pleasant climate and fresh water quality. To the west of the monastery is the Valley of Comfort.

The monastery has a great wall surrounding several internal buildings, some of them on top of each other, sometimes reaching four floors, through which are crooked corridors and corridors.

The building of the monastery resembles medieval fortresses, and its wall is built of granite stones, and it has towers at the corners. The height of its walls is between 12 and 15 meters, and the lengths of its sides are approximately 117 * 80 * 77 * 76 meters. 

The building of the monastery dates back to the fourth century AD when Empress Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, ordered its construction in the year 432 AD, and then it was completed during the reign of Emperor Justinian in the year 545 AD .

To be a stronghold for the monks of Sinai, and it was named in the following ages after the name of the Monastery of Saint Catherine, one of the martyrs of Alexandria, for a vision that one of the monks saw in a dream that she was transferred to this place.

Accordingly, her remains were moved to this place, and her name was given to the monastery and the entire region. The monastery has a great wall surrounding many buildings, which are penetrated by corridors and corridors, and it has high towers in the corners.

The most important buildings of the monastery are: the great church, the church of the bush, the mosque, and the library, in addition to the monks' cells, a press, two mills, granaries, supplies, and water wells.

Major church: It is the oldest Christian monument and dates back to the reign of Emperor Justian in the sixth century AD.

It was designed in the form of a Roman basilica, which was common at the time of its construction in 527 AD.

It is located in the northern part of the monastery and is sometimes called the Great Church or the Cathedral.

It was also  known as the Transfiguration Church. Inside the church, there are two rows of columns, which are 12 columns representing the months of the year. On each side there are 4 structures, each bearing the name of a saint.

Despite what this church was subjected to in different eras, the greater part of its ceiling remained preserved, and there are some ancient writings on parts of it, among them: “In order to greet our king, he met Justinian the Great. Etienne, and the builders of this monastery were Eliseus (Elisha) and Nona, and the first was the first to supervise the monastery.

 As for Elisha, he was the architect who built it. Perhaps Nona was his wife.

In the front of the church is a round apse whose roof and sides are decorated with mosaics... It is the most important thing in the entire monastery, as it is one of the most famous Christian mosaics in the whole world. Only the Hagia Sophia mosaic in Istanbul can match it in its artistic value. This mosaic represents scenes from the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The main scene in it represents the Lord Christ in the center, with the Virgin on his right and Moses on his left... while Peter is lying at his feet and on the wall there are two scenes, one of which represents Moses receiving the law over the mountains of Sinai, and the second represents Moses kneeling in front of the tree... and the hand of God stretched out to him from above its flames pointing at him.

Under the ceiling of this dome and mosaics. . The sarcophagus in which the remains of St. Catherine's body were placed is located inside two silver boxes.

In one of them is the saint's skull, and above the box is a crown of gold inlaid with precious stones.

The other contains her left hand. It was adorned with golden rings and precious lobes.

On the other side, there are two large silver boxes on each of them has a picture of St. Catherine, and inside them are precious gifts that were gifted by kings and wealthy people to the monastery.

Beautiful icons of great historical importance are scattered everywhere in the church, as about 150 icons out of a total of about 2000 icons are displayed, including rare icons made in the sixth century.

A part also dates back to some of them date back to the early Byzantine era. And some of them date back to the period from the eleventh to the fifteenth century.

Precious chandeliers hang so that the church looks like a museum of art. As for the holiest place in the church, it is located behind it and can be accessed from both sides.

It is the structure of the tree that is, the place where it is believed that Moses stood when God appeared to him and addressed him.

The chapel: It was built on Mount Moses.

The Church of the dead: It is a room for preserving the skulls of the dead, in which the skulls are stacked on top of each other. There are only 6 tombs in the monastery, especially for monks and bishops.

The Church of the Bush: Behind the main church of the monastery and next to the Holy Bush - the shrine of the Prophet Harun.

Al-Hakim Mosque, by God's command: In front of the main church, there is a small mosque built in the days of the Fatimid’s, in implementation of the desire of the minister, Abu al-Nasr Anushtaqin, in the year 500 AH 1106 AD. It is located 10 meters from the big church.

The old mosque: Next to the Great Church since the Fatimid era

Library : Much of the fame of St. Catherine's Monastery is due to its library that has been rich in manuscripts.

It is located on the third floor of an old building south of the Great Church. The library includes, in addition to rare manuscripts, a number of documents and firmans that were given by the caliphs and rulers to the monastery.

The most famous of which is what is said to be a document from the Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace Peace be upon him, in which security is given to the monastery and the monks. And the document, as it is believed, was written by Omar Ibn Al-Khattab.

It consists of three rooms in a row containing thousands of archaeological manuscripts in the Arabic, Greek and Syrian languages.

The number of manuscripts is 6000 rare manuscripts, including historical, geographical and philosophical manuscripts, in addition to about 2000 documents and decrees given by the governors to the monastery, most of which are from the Fatimid era.

In addition to that, the monastery includes a press for extracting oil from olives, a water well, a bush tree, and an old store for food, and around it is a spacious garden with a room for skulls that collects the remains of the monks. 

 At the top of Mount Moses, there is a small church to which visitors ascend, and a small mosque close to it.

Monastery system: The current system of monasticism that the monks of St. Catherine's Monastery follow is the system of St. Basil the Great (329-379 AD), one of the disciples of Anba Pakhom (290-348 AD). Where the monk vows himself to a life of austerity and worship with joint work side by side

Safari tourism: Due to the city’s stunning natural landscapes that are rarely found in any other spot, where the majestic mountains and the valleys that make walking in them a pleasure for the soul and a pleasure for the heart, safari trips have recently spread in the city for those seeking the pleasure of nature.

Saint Catherine Mountains:

-Girls' Mountain: It is a great mountain in the direction of Cereal, and separates them from the Valley of Firan. There are many narrations on this name, but the most famous of them is a narration that says that some desert girls fled from their families to get rid of marriage to those they did not love, and they resorted to this mountain, so they chased them to it, and then they tied their braids to each other and threw themselves into the valley And they went martyrs to freedom.

 -Mount Moses: It is considered one of the most famous mountains in South Sinai, and every visitor to St. Catherine’s Monastery likes to climb the top of this mountain, which rises about 7,363 feet above sea level.

This name was given to him in relation to our master Moses, peace be upon him, because he used to climb this mountain in order to converse with his Lord for forty days to receive the message that he delivered to his people who were waiting in the Valley of Comfort.

 It was said that this mountain was thundering and vibrating violently, and when one climbs to its summit, one can see the most beautiful view that the eye sees, especially in the early morning and the sun sends its rays on the mountains accumulated above Each other as far as the eye can see, and a small church was built on top of it, and next to it a small mosque.

-Mount Catherine: This Mountain is considered one of the highest mountains in all of Egypt, with a height of 8,563 feet above sea level.

It was named so because, as mentioned in the traditions of the monks, the angels in the past carried the body of Saint Katrina from the place of her martyrdom in Alexandria in the year 307 AD and brought her down to this mountain.

The skull and the bone of one of the hands are preserved in a box inside the church to this day. One can see from its top within sight the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez, especially if the weather is clear and the sun is shining.

Nature reserves in St. Catherine:

 -Saint Catherine Reserve:The area of ​​​​Saint Catherine Reserve is about 4300 km 2 from South Sinai. This area provides wonderful opportunities for making safari trips and enjoying nature amidst the most beautiful scenery in Egypt  Saint Catherine and its surroundings were declared a natural reserve.

 Saint Catherine Reserve enjoys natural and cultural elements of a special nature, as it is an area with a long heritage.

Exercising and riding camels is the best way to enjoy the charming areas and high mountains, as it is the original home of many tribes and is a shelter for multiple wildlife.

St. Catherine Reserve is located at the end of the meeting of Wadi El-Sabaia with Wadi Al-Arbaeen on a high plateau surrounded by high altitudes, represented by several mountains of varying heights.

These mountains are characterized by sharp, undulating slopes that are difficult to climb without the presence of specific pistils.

St. Catherine Reserve is a unique reserve of its kind in Egypt, as it includes a quality of components worthy of protection.

 It is a historical reserve with a unique cultural heritage represented in the Monastery of St. Catherine with its architectural contents and treasures Artistic and archaeological, and the sacred mountains around it of religious importance, as well as some other religious monuments such as the tomb of the Prophet Salah and the tomb of Haron.

At the same time, St. Catherine is an important natural reserve, as it is one of the most important natural shelters for most of the rare plants that inhabit Sinai, whose presence in Egypt is limited to that region, such as medicinal plants, poisonous plants, and others. It also abounds with water springs and fruitful crops.

 There are also some water wells of historical importance, such as the well of Al-Zaytouna and the well of Haroun.

Animal life: St. Catherine's area abounds with many wild animals such as foxes, hyenas, teals, deer, ibex, hares, wolves, Arabian hedgehog, spiny mouse, jerboa and many reptiles such as prey. And the sparrow, and the harpoon, and the lesson, and others. This area has been declared a nature reserve since 1988.

Medicinal plants: Science and scientists have proven that treatment with medicinal plants and herbs is less harmful than medicines extracted from chemicals, as their research and studies have now tended to extract medicine from natural plants and herbs to treat many diseases, and this trend has added to the city of St. in the treatment of many diseases.

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