Saint Catherine

 

Saint Catherine

 

Located at the foot of Mount Sinai, Saint Catherine’s Monastery is the smallest of the autonomous churches that together constitute the Eastern Orthodox Church. In 2002, the monastery was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Each year, thousands of visitors travel here to visit this religious landmark.

Mount Sinai, also known as Mount Moses, received its name from the belief that this is where Moses received the Ten Commandments. The mountain is over 2,285 meters above sea level. The shortest route to the top (but the steepest), is a stairway consisting of 3,750 steps.

Saint Catherine’s Monastery consists of chapels, courtyards, galleries and a bell tower surrounded by plants and floral gardens within a fortress-like red granite high-rise wall. The minaret from the Fatimid –style mosque adjacent to the monastery is almost a part of the sacred area and features very old religious Arab Islamic scripts. 


The Monastery was constructed by order of the Roman Emperor Justinian I between 527 and 565 AD. It was built around the site believed to be the place where Moses saw the Burning Bush. The works of art contained within the monastery are amazing and priceless. The monastery's spiritual heart is the Chapel of the Burning Bush, an unassuming structure of tremendous religious significance.


Saint Catherine’s Monastery was named after young Christian female martyr born in 294 AD in Alexandria who was tortured and then beheaded for her religious beliefs. St. Catherine’s remains were discovered after a monk had a premonition of her cadaver abandoned at a Sinai mountaintop and laid her to rest at the monastery. 

The most striking thing about the monastery’s history is that, despite the often-turbulent events around it, both military and religious leaders have always offered it a special protection.

Around the monastery, the St. Catherine's National Park is a fascinating area, which supports an amazing diversity of plant and animal life, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. Simple hotel facilities are also available in St. Catherine for guests who would like to stopover. 


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