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Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai - where Moses received the commandments

St Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai in Egypt is a truly ancient monastery with a wealth of religious history. It includes the burning bush and the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.

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St Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai in Egypt

Located at the foot of Mount Sinai on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, St Catherine's Monastery is named after St Catherine of Alexandria. The monastery, along with its surroundings, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai, also known as Mount Moses, is a mountain range in the southern Sinai Peninsula. It includes the peaks of Jebel Misa at 2285 metres above sea level and Jebel Katharin at 2880 metres above sea level. According to Christian and Jewish tradition, it was here that Moses received the Ten Commandments of God, which were written on stone tablets. At the foot of the mountain is the Katharin Monastery.

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Day trip from Sharm el Sheikh

We made a day trip to the Katarina Monastery from Sharm el Sheikh, organised by 1001 Natt Resor. The tour started at six in the morning and three hours later we arrived at the monastery. During the same tour we also visited the beautiful and bohemian coastal town of Sharm el Sheikh. Dahabas we told you about earlier. Several hours through beautiful desert landscape!

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Visiting the Katarina Monastery

St Catherine's Monastery is at an altitude of over 1500 metres above sea level, and we had been warned that it could be 'a bit chilly'. To be on the safe side, we each had a thin jacket with us, but it was needed. definitely not in the 30-degree sweltering heat. In winter, however, it can certainly be cool here. You will also find many shops and vendors here, selling everything from guidebooks to jewellery.

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We were far from alone at the entrance to the monastery. People of all nationalities come here, including Ukrainians, Indonesians and Africans of all kinds, but of course also many Western Europeans.

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Catherine's Monastery - founded in 337.

According to legend, the monastery was founded in 337 by Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. The monastery building you see today was built by Justinian I on the site of the 'burning bush' and was completed in 565. The monastery was completed in 565. Many valuable icons and manuscripts, such as the Codex Sinaiticus, can be found in this old monastery today.

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St Catherine died a martyr's death

The monastery at Mount Sinai was named after St Catherine, only a few hundred years after its completion. Catherine is known, among other things, for converting a group of fifty philosophers to Christianity.

They were later martyred for their choice, and Catherine was also sentenced to death by the Emperor. She was initially going to be executed in a cruel way by so-called 'council execution', but the wheel was miraculously broken.

Catherine was instead beheaded and prayed at the moment of death that her body would never be found. In response to her prayer, according to legend, angels then took her body to Mount Sinai. Several hundred years later, Egyptian Christians found the remains of a body at the mountain, and the dust has been revered as sacred ever since.

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The vertiginous gate of St Catherine's Abbey

The walls of St. Catherine's Monastery are 2.5 metres thick and fifteen metres high, and in the past, for security reasons, visitors were hoisted to the entrance, an aerial journey of about nine metres. Today, fortunately, you can walk in via a regular entrance.

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Leave a wish in Catherine's Monastery

Unfortunately, photography is not allowed unnecessarily church, but we can tell you that you can feel the history inside. You can also make a wish and leave it in the church. If you are not a member of the Orthodox Church, you can submit your wish along with a small amount of money. There is also a small museum in the area, including icons, which can be visited for an additional fee.

Katarinaklostret vid Sinaiberget
Katarinaklostret vid Sinaiberget

The burning bush

At the foot of Mount Sinai, God appeared to Moses through a burning bush and called him to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. The Exodus from Egypt is when the Israelites, under the leadership of Moses and Aaron, marched out of Egypt and towards the land of Canaan, which today forms the basis of the celebration of the Jewish Easter.

Den brinnande busken
Den brinnande busken
The bush on the right is the burning bush, according to our guide

Moses well

At the monastery you can also check out Moses' well, which was built by Napoleon during the time when the French army was trying to take over and develop Egypt. The advantage of the well, of course, was that water could be accessed from inside the monastery.

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Our guide shows how the well works
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Peter looks down the well

A Christian monastery in a Muslim world

Christianity and Islam have lived side by side for a long time in this region, and although there have sometimes been threats, there has been much more of a consensus. According to legend, the Prophet Muhammad visited Catherine's Monastery before the Arab conquest of Egypt in 640, and medieval documents show that an agreement was made so that the Christian monks would be safe under Muslim rule. Incidentally, our guide (a Muslim from Saudi Arabia) knew the Bible a thousand times better than we did ...

Tips for a good trip to St Catherine's Abbey

It was a really interesting trip to the Katarina Monastery, but it was also quite a few hours in the car in one day. We can recommend this trip to those who are interested in religious history, or for those who spend a little more than a week in Sharm el Sheikh, so that it does not matter so much that you "lose" some hours of sunshine sitting in a car.

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Hike up Mount Sinai - and see St Catherine's Monastery

Another option is to book a different tour, starting with a hike up Mount Sinai (at night!). The hike takes about 3 hours, and at the top you will be greeted by a stunning sunrise. For those who get tired, it is possible, at a small extra cost, to ride part of the distance on a camel. After climbing the mountain, you will visit the monastery.

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All our top tips on Egypt. Click on the image!

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