- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Arabic Phrases
The Monastery of St. Anthony
The Monastery of St. Anthony Review
Saint Anthony is a prominent figure in Coptic Christianity because of his influence on the monastic movement. And even though his contemporary Paul was the first hermit, Anthony was the more popular. He was born in the middle of the 3rd century AD to wealthy parents who left him with a hefty inheritance upon their death, when he was 18. Instead of reveling in his riches, he sold all his possessions, distributed the proceeds to the poor, sent his sister to a convent, and fled to dedicate his life to God as a hermit in the mountains overlooking the Red Sea.
Disciples flocked to Anthony, hoping to hear his preaching and to be healed. But the monk sought absolute solitude and retreated to a cave in the mountain range of South Qabala. After his death in the 4th century—the hermit lived to age 104—admirers built a chapel and refectory in his memory. Saint Anthony's grew. In the 7th, 8th, and 11th centuries, periodic Bedouin predations severely damaged the structure. It was restored in the 12th century.
Saint Anthony's is deep in the mountains. Its walls reach some 40 feet in height. Several watchtowers, as well as the bulky walls' catwalk, provide for sentries. The Church of Saint Anthony was built over his grave, and it is renowned for its exquisite 13th-century wall paintings of Saint George on horseback and the three Desert Fathers, restored in the 1990s.
Four other churches were built on the grounds of the monastery over the years. The most important of them is the 1766 Church of Saint Mark, which is adorned with 12 domes and contains significant relics.
A 2-km (1-mi) trek—be sure to bring plenty of drinking water along—leads you to Saint Anthony's Cave, 2,230 feet above sea level, where he spent his last days. Views of the Red Sea and the surrounding mountains are superb, and you're likely to encounter interesting local bird life on the hike to the cave. Inside the cave, among the rocks, pilgrims have left pieces of paper asking the saint for intervention.
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- $93 & Up: SUNRISE Holidays 5-Star Hotel in Hurghada Save with Expedia, $23/night less
- Book 5-Star Hurghada Marriott Red Sea Fr $89+/Nt Expedia
- Hurghada Savings! Book at Sol Y Mar Ivory Suites Fr $50+/Nt — $50 Expedia
- Book in Hurghada: Save this May Fr $132+/Nt — $132 Save with Expedia, $33/night less
- Hilton Hurghada Long Beach on Sale: Book 3 Nts in May Fr $120+/Nt — $120 Save with Expedia, $80/night less
Just returned from 12 great days in Egypt. Read more
Its been a week since my 7 day trip to Egypt with my boyfriend, and I better write it all down lest i forget! Read more
Does anyone have any recent experience or knowledge for driving between Aswan and Luxor. Read more
· News & Features
A New York City judge has ruled against the use of apartments for "transient tenants," which includes... Read more
Memorial Day is the unofficial start of what we like to call "weekend getaway season."... Read more
Wineries have a very obvious main draw.... Read more