Friday, 2 March 2007

St Antony's Monastery

"In the barren expanse of the Eastern Desert, under the clarity of a seamless blue sky, lies a historic and often overlooked monastery.

Although the monastery ranks amongst travel book highlights, its distance from better-recognized monuments has protected it. A gentle pulse in a desolate landscape, St. Anthony’s is the picture of serenity. Secluded, majestic — although it’s a mere two-hour drive from Cairo’s city center — this subtle gem is a day trip away for culture lovers.St. Anthony moved to the Red Sea Mountains in the 3rd century from the age of 18 until his death at 105. His legacy of rejecting the material and solitary reflection, has is the foundation of the oldest operational monastery to date.

The monastery is the only structure in sight for kilometers. Under gleaming rays of unobstructed desert sun, its thick, whitewashed walls radiate light. Seen from the one-way highway leading to it, it almost shines in the distance. The compound is cradled by the base of Mount Qalah’s sandstone crests and surrounded by the harshest of desert plains. Its environment is beautiful, yet bleak, and its vastness is at once liberating and threatening."