Bookmark and Share

Mount Sinai

Open LookLex Encyclopaedia

Open the online Arabic language course

Mountain of myths

Mount Sinai, Egypt

Mount Sinai, Egypt

Whether this is the moutain described in the Old Testament or not is questioned. An 18th century Danish expedition into Arabia concluded that there was no local knowledge of such a mountain. The claim of this mountain top is, however, linked to its proximity to the monastery of St. Catherine's, which is a structure going back to the 6th cenctury. But still the monastery is no clear indication of which mountain is the Biblical one, since the focus of the monastery is the burning bush of Moses.
No matter what you believe in, the Mount Sinai is a definite must. The climb is a spectacular experience, and the views from its top more than makes up for the fatigue you feel first arriving here.
The mountain top has a Greek Orthodox chapel as well as a modest mosque.
Most people return to the valley below using the Steps of Repentance. This is a rock-hewn staircase leading all the way from the monastery of St. Catherine's to the top, across 3750 steps! All cut out by a monk, who, as the name suggests, must have had something serious to repent.

Mount Sinai, Egypt

Eat and Sleep
There are several places on the top offering basic accommodation, which is under open air but with blankets and mattresses. Considering that you can catch both the sunset and the sunrise from the top this way, it comes highly recommended.
Otherwise, options are the St. Catherine's, with plenty of hotels near the monastery, and even an hostel run by the monks. The latter is preferred by many, apart from that most of the hotels are rather expensive. Value for money is not terribly great.

Getting to the top of the mountain is done by walking or hiring a camel. You can choose between the path zigzaging up the mountain side, or the Steps of Repentence. Many find the first best for the climb, the latter best for the descent.


Going Next
120 km northeast: Nuweiba
140 km east: Dahab
230 km southeast: Sharm el-Sheikh
45 km west: Feiran Oasis
5 km east: St. Catherine's

By Tore Kjeilen