Egypt Travel Guide – Wadi El Natron

Wadi El- Natron is located 100 km to the north west of Cairo, it is a natural depression in the western desert. Now it is consisting of salt lakes and salt flats laying in the desert.Wadi el Natorn was very important to the ancient Egyptian since it was where they extracted the Natrun salt. Indeed and become more important during the early era of Christianity in Egypt. Today it is the centre of many monasteries dating back to the fourth century AD.

These monasteries are
  • Dier Abu Maker (St. Makarios)
  • Dier Anba Bishoi (St. Bishoi)
  • Dier El Syrian
  • Dier El Barmous

Dier Abu Maker (St. Makarios)

It is located 4 km of the Alexandria desert road, it consists today of many remains of a much greater site. The importance of this place today rises from the fact that here St Makarios who was the son of An Egyptian priest who lived here in 330 AD, he became the spiritual leader of the Christian hermits and monks in the area, he was buried in the monastery , and later about 9 Patriarchs were buried in the same monastery. The site of monastery is consisting of several churches, frequently destroyed and currently being rebuilt , the main site consist of the cell of chrism and the fluid said to be used to embalm Jesus Christ. The monastery still contains religious painting and frescos that goes back to the 5 century Ad. The monastery is not open for visitors.

Dier Anba Bishoi (St. Bishoi)

One of the mot important monasteries today in Wadi El- Natroun is Dier Anba Bishoi ( Bischoi) it was named after the Patron Saint St. Bishoi who immigrated to the site and lived in here in solitude. Then monastery was restored several times after it has been destroyed at the hands of the barbers. and Bedouins. It has 5 churches the main one is the St Bishoi church which goes as early to the 9 century Ad. This church today is only used during the summertime. To the east of this church lies another one known as the church of Al- Adra (the virgin), but this one is only used during the winter month. At the second flower of the monastery which goes back to the 12 century Ad, there is the church of angel. Also there is the charge of St. George which is not used at all. The monastery contains the remains of St. Bishoi, and Ephraim the Assyrian, and Paul of Tomah.

Dier El Syrian (The Syrian Monastery)

It is located to the north west of St Bishou monastery almost 400 meters away. Women are not allowed into this monastery. The monastery goes back the 6th century AD, the monastery was built by some of the orthodox monks for the monastery of Bishouy who had a dispute with other monks in the monastery about the status of the virgin Mary. They called it the theocratic ( Mother of god). Later the monastery was abounded and then it was sold to group of Syrian monks. The monastery contains It has a an olive press, large farm attached to it and a library.

The monastery consisting of the following churches
  • The Church of El -Adra (church of the Virgin) which is considered the main church. Which is used during the summer month
  • Church of Sitt Mariam ( lady Mary), they also call it the cave church. It stores the relics of St. John Kame the black who died in 656AD
  • The Church of the forty martyrs
  • The Church of Hinnes and Marutha, who bought this church for the Syrian monks.
  • In the second flower of the monastery lie the churches of S Michael.

The monastery like other was badly destroyed and rebuilt and fortified. It has many churches such as:

  • The Church of the El- Adra.
  • Church of Anba Tadrous.
  • Church of St. John the Baptist.
  • Chapel of Mari Gerges.
  • Church of Angel Michael with dome covered hykal.

Information and text Source:

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