Catherine is the highest summit in Sinai, where on a clear
day it is possible to see the whole of Sinai. St. Catherine
who was tortured and beheaded for her Christian beliefs, lends
her name to Sinai's centre of religious tourism. A Sinai monk
once had a vision of her body at the top of a nearby mountain,
where her remains were discovered.
Monastery of St. Catherine is one of the best known monasteries
in the world - a Greek Orthodox holy place connected with
the Prophet Moses and the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. The
Monastery is famous for its Byzantine-style basilica, which
was built together with its protective walls in 527 A.D. The
basilica has three naves, and its dazzlingly ornate interior
contains works of art spanning fifteen centuries. Among the
more distinctive pieces are the many lamps which hang from
the ceiling in a silvery, glittering constellation, and the
impressive mosaics. Lying next to the main alter is a sarcophagus
which allegedly holds the remains of St. Catherine herself.
buildings inside the monastery are crowded together, each
a different shape and size. They are made up of mazes of small
courtyards, staircases, galleries and narrow corridors, vaulted
arcades and rounded arches. Adjacent to the monastery are
the bell tower and minaret of the mosque.
the walls on the northwest side, the gardens of the monastery
are surrounded by cypress trees and include grapevines and
orchards of lemons, oranges, olives, pears and apricots.
monastery is also famous for its Library, which by any standard
is extraordinary. It contains the largest collection of Christian
manuscripts and icons outside of the Vatican Museum. In 1844,
a German scholar visiting the library discovered -- and then
arguably stole -- the Codex Sinaiticus, an extremely important
4th- century version of the Bible that now rests in the British
Museum. Similar incidents throughout the years have forced
the monastery to allow access only to visitors who have obtained
written permission from the Archbishop of Cairo.
Catherine's is still a functioning monastery, and visitors
can view the chapel as well as an amazing collection of icons.
Above all St. Catherine's is a spectacular natural setting
for priceless works of art.
route to the top is on foot, and the best time to go is between
October and May. For a comfortable journey you will need sneakers,
a bottle of water and some candy. As the journey takes place
during the night, when it gets very cold, you will need a
jumper or a heavy jacket apart from a flash light.