South Sinai, Egypt– St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt felt very far away from everything and everywhere, when I had traveled there in late 2019. I was already in Sharm el-Sheikh along the Red Sea when I took a day trip to this ancient monastery, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The desert drive was a long three hours through dry rocky landscape, with the occasional Bedouins crossing on camels and police checkpoints.
St. Catherine’s Monastery was founded in the 6th century, and is the oldest Christian monastery still in use for its initial function. For me, the beauty of this ancient UNESCO site was that it holds reverence to the three major world religions- Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This Orthodox Monastery stands at the foot of Mount Horeb where according the Old Testament records, Moses received the Tablets of the Law- Ten Commandments. The mountain is known and revered by Muslims as Jebel Musa.
Depending on your faith or no faith towards this area’s three religions, St. Catherine’s is still fascinating for its Byzantine architecture and historical value. The monastery holds many of the world’s oldest books in one of the oldest libraries, plus many Christian relics and icons.
For those whose beliefs revolve around the teachings of the Old Testament, the shrine of Moses’s burning bush is located inside St. Catherine’s. The large live shrub is said to be the burning bush that Moses came across within the surrounding mountains. Also, within the walls of the monastery is the Well of Moses or the ‘Well of Jethro’. It is where Moses is said to have met Zipporah, his future wife.
The surrounding Mt. Sinai mountains were stunning, impressive and peaceful. If you enjoy hiking there are sunrise hikes up Mt. Sinai, that is if you are the adventurous type. For myself, I was happy just wandering alongside the valley with a gorgeous view of St. Catherine’s, and the occasional “Hello!” to a Bedouin dog or goat.
There are many day tours that leave from Sharm El-Sheikh that will take you to St. Catherine’s. You can book a tour online prior to your visit or ask your hotel when you arrive. Since tours are not daily and book quickly, I recommend you confirm with a tour company just to make sure that you have a reservation.
If you need information on tours, comment below as I have worked with great tour companies in Egypt and will be happy to direct you to one that fits your needs.
It was an early start and a long day up to St. Catherine’s and it was worth the journey. Although I am not of Christian/ Catholic religion anymore, I still respect my upbringing. Additionally, besides Mount Nebo in Jordan, this was another site where I had visited where all three major religions can find a holy common ground.
— Photo Journal of St. Catherine’s Monastery and Surrounding Areas —
Along the Drive
Bedouin Dog and Me
My guide insisted on taking photos of me…
Inside the St. Catherine’s Monastery
Wanderlust is not about running away from it all. It’s about experiencing the outside to discover the inside.– Unkown
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre