Wadi El Natron Travel Guide
Wadi El-Natron is located 100 km northwest of Cairo and is built in a natural depression in the western desert. The surrounding area consists of salt lakes and salt flats in the desert.
Wadi el Natron was essential to the ancient Egyptians because it was where they got their salt. It became even more critical during the early Christian era in Egypt. Today, it is the best place to find many monasteries dating back to the fourth century AD.
These Monasteries Are:
- The Monastery of Deir Abu Makar ( st. Makarous)
- The Monastery of Deir Anba Bishoy ( St Bishoi)
- The Monastery of Deir EL Surian.
- The Monastery of Deir EL Baramous.
Deir Abu maker (St. Makarous)
This monastery is located 4 km from the Alexandria Desert Road and consists of many remains from a much larger site. Its importance today arises because St Makarios (the son of an Egyptian priest who lived there in 330 AD) became the spiritual leader of the Christian hermits and monks in the area. He was buried in the monastery; about nine patriarchs were later buried there.
The monastery's site consists of several churches, frequently destroyed and currently being rebuilt. The leading site contains the fluid said to have been used to embalm Jesus Christ. The monastery still contains religious paintings and frescos dating back to the fifth century A.D. The monastery is not open to visitors.
Deir Anba Bishoy (St. Bishoi)
Today, one of the most important monasteries 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 solitude.
The monastery has been restored several times after being destroyed at the barbers' hands. And Bedouins. It has five churches. The main one is the St. Bishoi church, which goes back as early as the ninth 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), which is only used during the winter.
The second area of the monastery, which dates back to the 12th century A.D., contains the Church of Angels. The monastery also has a chapel dedicated to St. George, which is not currently used. The monastery contains the remains of St. Bishoi, Ephraim the Assyrian, and Paul of Tomah.
Deir el Surian (The Syrian monastery)
This monastery is located north of St. Bishou monastery, around 400 meters away. The monastery dates back to the 6th century A.D. and was built by Orthodox monks for the monastery of Bishouy, who had a dispute with other monks about the status of the Virgin Mary. They called the monastery Theotokos ( Mother of God).
Later, the monastery was abandoned, and then it was sold to a group of Syrian monks. The monastery contains an olive press, a large farm attached to it, and a library.
Due to church rules, women are not allowed into this monastery.
The Monastery Consists of the Following Churches:
1- The Church of El-Adra (church of the Virgin) is considered the main church. It is used during the summer.
2- Church of St. Mariam ( Lady Mary), they also called the cave church. It stores the relics of St. John Kame the Black, who died in 656 A.D.
3-The Church of the 40 Martyrs
4-The Church of Hinnes and Marutha, who bought this church for the Syrian monks.
5- In the second part of the monastery is the church of St. Michael.
Deir el Baramous:
This monastery is the furthest of all, located in the extreme northwest east of Wadi EL Natroun, almost 14 km from the main entrance road to the valley.
The name Deir El Baramous means " the monastery of the Romans. " It was so named because the area was traditionally famous for being where two Roman priests fled Christian persecution during Roman times and established the monastery.
Deir El Baramous contains many churches, including:
1- The Church of El-Adra.
2- Church of Anba Tadrous.
3- Church of St John the Baptist.
4- Chapel of Mari Gerges.
5- Church of Angel Michael with a dome-covered hike.