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St. Antony's Monastery


St. Antony's Monastery, which lies at the foot of Al-Qalzam Mountain near Al Zaafarana, was founded in 356 AD just after the saint's death and is the oldest active monastery in the world.. We do know that St. Antony founded several monasteries during his life (though they would not have been recognizable in the modern use of the term), but alas they are no more. We know little of the monastery's very early period. However, during the sixth and seventh centuries many monks from Wadi Natroun who were under frequent attacks by Bedouins migrated to St. Antony's. But this monastery was plundered on many occasions also, being partly destroyed in the 11th century. Between the 12th and 15th centuries, the monastery flourished but was plundered again in 1454 by Bedouin servants. Due to such attacks, this is a fortress style monastery. Though Coptic today, over its many years the monastery was often multi-faith, housing monks of several different Christian religions. Today it is a self-contained village with gardens, a mill, a bakery and five churches, the best of which is St. Antony's Church . It is accessible by special tours from Cairo, Suez or Hurghada and a stay in either monastery can be arranged in advance.

St. Paul's Monastery


The Monastery of St. Paul probably dates to the fifth century and was founded in memory of one of Egypt's greatest saints and anchorites, who is said to have lived in a cave over which it was built for a period of some eighty years. St. Paul was apparently born to rich parents in the year 228, However, by the age of sixteen, he had lost his parents. This would have corresponded with the terrible period of Christian persecution perpetuated by Decius and Valerian between 249 and 260 AD. After the death of his parents, Paul renounced his inheritance and consecrated his life to God, eventually seeking refuge in the wilderness of Egypt's Eastern Desert

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