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Berenice, St. Anthony's and St. Paul's Monasteries at Red Sea Cost

Berenice, St. Anthony's and St. Paul's Monasteries at Red Sea Cost

Berenice

The major centers along Egypt's Red Sea coast are Ain Sukhana, Berenice, Bir Shalatein, El Gouna, Hurghada, Mersa Alam, Al- Zuseir, Safaga, Suez and Zafarana. Hurghada emerged in early 20th century and was until recently an isolated fishing village. It terms of historical pedigree it cannot hold its own against some of the other Red Sea towns such as Berenice which was founded in 275 BC by the Ptolemy II Philadephus during the Greek period. But from the 1980's onwards, the city has prospered and is now the leading resort along the Red Sea coast. Hurghada lies 380 km to the southeast of Cairo.


The ancient city of Berenice, named by Ptolemy II, became a trading port in 275 BC. A ruined Temple of Semiramis is near the modern town and , inland, there are the remains of the emerald mines of Wadi Sakait, which were worked from pharaonic to Roman times. The coast is lined with mangrove swamps and unspoiled bays and coves. Offshore, visit the tectonic island of Zabargad, a geological phenomenon which is also famous as the source of the semi-precious gem olivine, mined here from 1500 BC until the mid-20th century. From Peridot Hill there are breathtaking views of the surrounding blue lagoons, rich in marine life and home to many dolphins.
The ancient city of Berenice
Berenice may be little more than a wide spot in the road yet it offers the best shore-based snorkeling on the Red Sea Coast. And it boasts ‘hidden’ treasures as well. Take a boat trip to Qulan and visit the Maldives of the Red Sea. Take a desert excursion and, in addition to seeing colored canyons, learn about nomadic tribes and discover emerald mines worked from Pharaonic to Roman times. Tour the Temple of Serapis as well as the ancient town. Berenice, founded by Ptolemy II in 275 BC, was once a crossroads and important trading port.

St. Anthony's and St. Paul's Monasteries

The Monastery of Saint Anthony is a Coptic Orthodox monastery standing in an oasis in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. Hidden deep in the Red Sea mountains, it is located 334 km (207 miles) southeast of Cairo, in Eastern desert, some 50km from the red sea coast. It is one of the oldest monasteries in the world, and was established by the followers of Saint Anthony, who is considered to be the first ascetic monk. St Anthony’s Monastery is the largest and oldest Coptic monastery in Egypt. St Anthony was born just a short distance away in Beni Suef in AD250 to a wealthy family. His parents died when he was young and left him guardian to a little sister.

The monastery that bears St. Paul's name (Deir Mar Boulos in Egyptian) is located where he was buried, in a valley south of the St. Anthony monastery. It has been little changed over the years, preserving its remarkably ancient heritage. The Monastery of St. Anthony is one of the most prominent monasteries in Egypt and has strongly influenced the formation of several Coptic institutions, and has promoted monasticism in general. Several patriarchs have been pulled from the monastery, and several hundred pilgrims visit it each day.

St. Anthony's Monastery (Deir Mar Boulos) and its neighbor St. Paul's, are the oldest monasteries in Egypt. Hidden deep in the Red Sea Mountains and relying on springs for their water supply, both still observe rituals that have hardly changed in 16 centuries. They are accessible by special tours from Cairo, Suez of Hurghada and a stay in either monastery can be arranged in advance. St. Anthony's was founded in 356 AD, just after the saint's death. Today it is a self-contained village with gardens, a mill, a bakery and five churches with exceptional wall paintings and icons. There is also a library with over 1700 handwritten manuscripts.
Monastery of St Paul
St. Anthony's Cave, Where he lived as a hermit, is a 2 km. hike from the monastery and 680 m. above the red Sea. It offers stunning views of the mountains and the sea - and the chance to see a wide range of birdlife. The monastery has three churches. The Church of St. Paul, built underground, was dug into the cave where the saint lived and where his remains are kept. St. Paul's possesses many illustrated manuscripts, including the Coptic version of the Divine Liturgy and the Commentary on the Epistle of Saint Paul to Titus by John Chrysostom. The Saint Paul monastery is smaller than that of St. Anthony but less sophisticated. The church of St. Paul is the most interesting of the monastery besides the unique serenity one can feel here.

In 2001, a larger project to conserve the entire church, its venerable walls and unique paintings was begun. The project was directed by Michael Jones under the Antiquities Development Project of ARCE and was completed in 2005. The result is the preservation of this precious inheritance for the residents of the monastery and for scholars, pilgrims and tourists alike.

Today the monastery is a large complex surrounded by high walls (it's possible to walk along the top of some sections), with several churches and chapels, a bakery, a lush garden and a spring. The source of the latter, deep beneath the desert mountains, produces 100 cu metres of water daily, allowing the monks to cultivate olive and date trees as well as a few crops.

Last Updated on Monday 29th November 2010