Saint Catherine’s Monastery is situated in the heart of the Sinai Desert, at the foot of Mount Sinai, a place sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Saint Catherine’s is one of the best-preserved early Christian sites. The monastery’s basilica and fortifications were constructed by the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century.
In recognition of its extraordinary cultural and historical importance, Saint Catherine’s Monastery became a UNESCO World Heritage Monument in 2002.
The Monastery of St Catherine
The Saint Catherine’s Library contains some 3,300 bound manuscripts and 2,000 scrolls in eleven different languages. There are more than 5,000 early printed books.
The monastery is famous as the home of the Codex Sinaiticus, the world's oldest bible. It has been dispersed and the monastery retains at least eighteen leaves or fragments.
One of the most important manuscripts is the Codex Sinaiticus Syriacus, a palimpsest manuscript famous for its fifth-century underwriting. Still visible on the parchment is the earliest text of the New Testament Gospels in Syriac.
The Saint Catherine’s Library preserves the largest single surviving accumulation of Byzantine bookbindings. The Syriac and Arabic manuscripts represent a remarkable, virtually untouched, collection of early manuscripts in their original bindings.
The collection of early printed books includes finely printed Greek texts from most of the major European printers. Some are in fine bindings and others are in even rarer contemporary interim bindings in parchment and paper.
The monastery is open to visitors from 9.00 to 11.45 am, except on Fridays, Sundays and a few holy days.
There is no charge to enter the monastery.
Visitors can view the sixth-century basilica, important icons located in the narthex and throughout the basilica, and the sixth-century apse mosaic of the Transfiguration. Outside the basilica are the Well of Moses and the Burning Bush.
The Treasury (Skevophylakion) is open to visitors. The entrance fee is 20 Egyptian pounds ($3.50). The most important icons, manuscripts, vestments and works in silver and silver gilt are on display here.
MONASTERY GUEST HOUSE
Moussa Boulos, General Manager
Telephone +2069 347 0353
Fax +2069 347 0543
The Monastery Guest House accommodates 120 people. Rates include breakfast and dinner. Arrangements can be made for lunch.
Single, double and triple rooms, as well as dormitory accommodtion, are available for a very reasonable rate.
Trips to Sinai can be arranged through Wind Sand & Stars, a UK-based company set up to provide the local Bedouin with direct trade. Wind Sand & Stars organise guided tours, camel treks, retreats and pilgrimages, including trips for the vision- and hearing-impaired.