Bookmark and Share

Mount Sinai

Open LookLex Encyclopaedia

Open the online Arabic language course

Monastery of the burning bush

St. Catherine's Monastery, Egypt

Photo: Gernot Hutter

St. Catherine's Monastery, Egypt

The monastery of St. Catherine's, in the heart of the mountains of Sinai, is believed by Christians and Jews to be the place where God gave man the Ten Commandments. To some extent, this myth is also a part of Muslim faith.
Above the deep valley lies the mountain which has been named Mount Sinai.
The monastery of St. Catherine's is built around the alleged burning bush of Moses. A delightful structure has been built over the centuries here, containing a church, monks houses, gardens, a hostel, and even a mosque. It all feels like a tiny, tiny village. Right in front of the church, is the enclosed burning bush of Moses.
The history of the church goes back to Byzantine emperor, Justinian 1, who ordered it built right here in the middle of the 6th century.
The monastery is Greek Orthodox, and there are presenlty 20-25 monks here, who are Greeks and originating from Mount Athos.

St. Catherine's Monastery, Egypt

Eat and Sleep
There are 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.

There are plenty of organized trips, as well as normal buses, minibuses and shared taxis to and from St. Catherine's. Joining an organized trip is only recommended if it includes other destinations, but note that should you wish to climb the Mount Sinai, most of they day is spent going up and down. So the best option for visiting St. Catherine's, is to catch a public bus from Dahab, Nuweiba or Sharm el-Sheikh, then visit the monastery, before you climb the mountain, and head on back in the evening.

The monastery is only open 2½ hours a day, closed on Fridays and Sundays, as well as on all Greek Orthodox holidays. There is no admission fee, but only modestly dressed visitors are allowed inside.

Going Next
115 km northeast: Nuweiba
135 km east: Dahab
230 km southeast: Sharm el-Sheikh
40 km west: Feiran Oasis
7 km south: Mount Sinai

By Tore Kjeilen