Set beneath a mountain many believe to be the Biblical Mt. Sinai, St. Catherine’s Monastery has a heritage dating back to the fourth century AD and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Still a working monastery, St. Catherine’s has defensive walls that house chapels, a library museum, and what is claimed to be a descendant of the Biblical burning bush. The Basics
St. Catherine’s Monastery is free to enter, but there is a small charge to enter St. Catherine’s Protected Area plus an additional fee to view the priceless ancient manuscripts in the library. Much of the monastery is closed off to visitors to allow the monks their privacy.
St. Catherine’s Monastery is typically visited as a day trip from either Dahab or Sharm el Sheikh. Some St. Catherine’s Monastery tours include a sunrise climb of Mt. Sinai above, while others make stops at desert sites such as the Colored Canyon.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- A must for history buffs and Bible aficionados, St. Catherine’s Monastery has a dramatic desert setting that also appeals to photographers.
- Wearing shorts is prohibited for both sexes when visiting this working monastery, while women should cover their shoulders.
- On occasion, there have been kidnappings on the road to St. Catherine’s Monastery. Follow your government’s travel advice as regards travel in the Sinai Desert.
St. Catherine’s Monastery stands in the heart of the Sinai Desert, a drive of about 131 miles (211 kilometers) north from Sharm el Sheikh. There is effectively no public transport, so almost all travelers visit as part of an organized tour, often combined with a sunrise climb of Mt. Sinai before the monastery opens.When to Get There
St. Catherine’s Monastery is closed on Fridays, Sundays, and the major Greek Orthodox holidays. On other days, it opens to the public in the mornings only. Mondays and Saturdays are the busiest days and, at times when tourist numbers are high, it’s worth visiting between Tuesday and Thursday.St. Catherine’s Monastery: The Biblical Sites
According to the Old Testament, God once spoke to Moses through a burning bush, instructing him to beg the Egyptian pharaoh to release the Jews from captivity. St. Catherine’s Monastery was founded in the Sinai because of a rare bush that the monks believed was the original burning bush. It’s also home to the well where some believe Moses met his wife Zipporah.