Monastery of St. Simeon
The Monastery of St. Simeon was initially dedicated to Anba Hadra, a local saint who lived in the 4th century and disappeared from the world on his wedding day. The monastery was constructed in the 7th century.
It was in the 10th century when it underwent renovations and was dedicated to Saint Simeon at that time.
Following their arrival at this location, the monks travelled into Nubia with the intention of converting the local population to Christianity. However, in 1173, Salah ad-Din demolished the monastery, putting a stop to the missionary endeavour.
Both the lower level, which was created out of stone, and the top level, which was constructed out of mud brick, were encircled by walls that were 10 meters in height. The monastery is located in an area that is surrounded by desert sands.
There are some fragments of the basilica’s original paintings that have been preserved, and nearby is the room where Saint Simeon is said to have prayed while his beard was fastened to the ceiling in case he dozed off during his devotions.
The cells, which were furnished with mastaba beds, were formerly utilised to accommodate a total of about 300 resident monks and approximately 100 pilgrims at any given time.
The final room on the right has graffiti left behind by Muslim pilgrims who stayed here while travelling to Mecca. Some of the writing is still legible today.
If you are coming from the desert trail or the boat landing, you can either hike or struggle up the desert route to reach the monastery (about 25 minutes).
You also have the option of taking a boat to the Tombs of the Nobles and then riding a camel or a donkey from there; however, you should be sure to bring sufficient amounts of drinking water with you.
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