The Monastery of St. Catherine

The journey to the earliest surviving bastion of Christianity, the Monastery of St. Catherine takes you through breathtaking vistas of arid rock formations, desolate expanse of desert and the occasional Bedouin tent camp, lasting approximately 3 hours. Founded by Empress Theodora in 342 AD at the foothills of Mount Moses and the Megafa Mountain, the Monastery has been a centre of worship and learning for over 1600 years.

Born Dorothea to a noble family in Alexandria in 294A.D. she studied poetry, music, art, physics, mathematics, astronomy and philosophy in a pagan school and converted to Christianity, baptized Catherine. She was tortured and beheaded for her faith and belief in Jesus by Emperor Maximus on November 25th 305 in Alexandria. Her body disappeared and according to tradition it was transported by angels to the highest mountain peak in the Sinai, now named after her. Three centuries later some monks of the Monastery, following a dream, found her body, brought it down from the mountain and placed it in a gold plated sarcophagus, which now stands in the Basilica Choir. In the 7th century the prophet Muhammad dictated a long document granting protection to the monastery and exempting it from taxes. A copy of it hangs in the priceless Icon Gallery and next to it, Napoleon’s letter of protection written in 1798 can also be seen. A mosque built in 1381 inside the Monastery’s walls convinced the advancing Ottoman armies that the complex was partly Muslim, safeguarding it from destruction. Since the 11th century, the Monastery of the Transfiguration has been known as St Catherine’s Monastery. Its library contains one of the world’s most ancient and important manuscripts with a collection of over 3000 most of them in Greek and 5000 books, is considered second to the Vatican’s. Throughout its history, the monastery has received gifts from Popes, Christian princes and most of all, from the Russian Tsars who considered themselves the natural successors of the Byzantine Emperors. From the many aspects of the Monastery, you will visit Emperor Justinian’s sixth century church, see the Mosaic of Transfiguration, the Chapel of the Burning Bush, the Icons Gallery, Jethro’s well and St Catherine’s shrine.

Depart from the monastery for the village of Dahab on the gulf of Aqaba where a delicious lunch buffet will be served for your enjoyment at one of the leading resorts of the area. On the return to Sharm El Sheikh your will drive via the Naama Bay Resort area.


Special Notes:
Tour suitable for elderly but not physically challenged persons.

The monastery closes its doors to the outside world at noon.

Photography inside the monastery is allowed but no video.

No fees for cameras.

Covered shoulders and knees a must while visiting the monastery.

An uphill 600 meters gravel road leads from the outer gate of the Monastery to the Monastery itself.

Guests having difficulties to take this road can utilize the available taxis charging a small fee.


Tour Details

Tour Name:
The Monastery of St. Catherine

special interest tours
Cultural Shore Tours
Family Shore Excursions

Tour ID:

Approximately 10hr00

medium excursionfamily excursionmeal included with tour

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