• Mai Khder

Monastery of Saint Anthony in the Red Sea

It is the oldest Coptic monastery in Egypt, which marks the beginning of the monastic tradition in the country. According to tradition, Antonio (4th century), orphaned at the age of 18, withdrew in solitude in the mountains to serve God. Discover more with Cairo Top Tours!

Having forbidden his followers to approach his cave, they camped at the foot of the hill, thus forming the nucleus initial of the current Monastery of Sant'Antonio (Deir Amba Antonius), erected shortly after his death in the place where he was buried.

It is the largest monastic complex in Egypt, with numerous churches and chapels, and a large wing for housing, which however today houses about 80 monks, for the first time in over a century, the monastery expands, welcoming Coptic Christians consecrated to the life of spiritual contemplation.

Access to the monastery is via a double arch door located between two turrets surmounted by crosses. It houses several chapels and the friars' lodgings and gardens. It has the pleasant appearance of a small fortified village with sand-colored walls.

The monastery of Sant'Antonio has retained much of its original appearance, despite attacks by Bedouin tribes in the eighth century and by Muslims in the eleventh century. The oldest structure of the complex is the church of Sant 'Antonio, built on the tomb of the saint. The interior walls of the church bear lively frescoes from the 13th century, all carefully restored during the 1990s.

About two kilometers northeast of the monastery is the cave where Saint Anthony is said to have spent the last years of his life, reachable on a path that starts from the west side of the monastery and climbs over a thousand wooden steps. In the cave, there is a small chapel with an altar, adorned on the walls by numerous medieval graffiti. The view over the valley is another spectacular attraction of the trip to the cave of Sant'Antonio.

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