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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 very important to the ancient Egyptians because it was where they got their salt. It became even more important 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:

  1. The Monastery of Deir Abu Makar ( st. Makarous)

  2. The Monastery of Deir Anba Bishoy ( St Bishoi)

  3. The Monastery of Deir EL Surian.

  4. 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. The importance of this place today arises from the fact that it is here that St Makarios (the son of An Egyptian priest who lived here in 330 AD) became the spiritual leader of the Christian hermits and monks in the area. He was buried in the monastery and later about nine patriarchs were also buried in the same monastery.

The site of the monastery consists of several churches, frequently destroyed and currently being rebuilt. The main site contains the fluid said to be used to embalm Jesus Christ. The monastery still contains religious painting and frescos that goes back to the 5 century A.D. The monastery is not open to visitors.

Deir Anba Bishoy (St. Bishoi)


One of the most important monasteries today 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 here in solitude.

The monastery has been restored several times after it has been destroyed at the hands of the barbers. and Bedouins. It has 5 churches the main one is the St Bishoi church which goes as early as the 9 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), but this one is only used during the winter.

In the second area of the monastery which goes back to the 12 century Ad, there is the church of Angels.  There is also a chapel dedicated to St. George which is not currently used at all. 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 to the northwest of  St. Bishouy 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 in the monastery 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 and has a large farm attached to it and a library.

Please take note that women are not allowed into this monastery due to church rules.

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 call it 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 and is 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 named this because the area was traditionally famous for being the spot where two Roman priests fled the Christian persecution during the Roman times and came to establish 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 dome-covered hykal

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