Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Saint Catherine's Monastery Tour, Egypt

Yesterday was an interesting day trip from Eilat to St. Catherine's Monastery in Egypt.  We booked a tour and as it turned out we were the only two people so we got our own private tour.  Yeah for us!

The first stop was the Taba border crossing which is about 10 km (6,5 miles) south of Eilat.  As part of the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, when Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula, it is possible to travel between the two countries.

As long as you are just travelling in the Sinai you can stay for up to 14 days without a visa.  Any further south than Sharm El Sheikh or up to Cairo and you'll need to get an Egyptian visa in advance.

Bedouin village

After crossing the border we started the 181 km (113 mile) drive to St. Catherine's.

After passing the beach resort town of Nuweiba, we had a long desert route where we saw Bedouin villages, camels, and went through numerous security checkpoints.

The Greek Orthodox Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai, is also known as the Monastery of the Transfiguration, and as the Monastery of St. Catherine.

The monastery was founded in 527 AD on the spot where God appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush and received the Ten Commandments.

This is the world's oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastery.  It is also home to the world's continuously operating library and, after the Vatican library, has the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts.

The Burning Bush
During the Middle Ages the monastery was a favourite pilgrimage site.

A chapel was converted to a mosque and used until the 13th century.  It was restored in 20th century and is used on special occasions.

Well of Jethro's Daughters
In 2002 the monastery became a UNESCO World Heritage site.

On a hill before arriving at the monastery is the Tomb of Aaron.  Aaron (the Prophet Haroun) was Moses' older brother who went with Moses to warn the Pharaoh about God's punishment for not freeing the Jews.  The tomb was built in the 13th century.

Saudi Arabia in the background
On the way back to Eilat we stopped off at Nuweiba to have lunch at a restaurant on the beach.

It was an interesting experience having lunch and seeing Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea.

After lunch we continued back to Taba and passed back in to Israel.

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