Mountain Monasteries of St. Paul & St. Anthony
- St. Anthony's Monastery: Step inside the oldest active monastery in the world, built in 356 AD by the faithful followers of the hermit saint, Anthony the Great.
- St. Paul's Monastery: Get an inside look into this Coptic Christian monastery that was built above the cave where St. Paul of Thebes lived for some 80 years.
- Monastery complex: Be captivated by the beauty of this restored complex from the 1500s complete with churches, chapels, a bakery, a garden, and a spring.
About This Sokhna Tour
Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. St. Anthony did just that for more than 85 years. Secluded deep in the Eastern Mountains of Egypt, Anthony the Great devoted himself to a life of solitude, humility, and prayer.
After the death of his parents when he was 18, Anthony sold his family's land and donated most of the money to the poor. He saved a small amount for his younger sister, whom he placed in the care of a group of 'Christian virgins' – today known as nuns – and headed off to devote himself to spiritual contemplation.
Despite his life of solitude, Anthony enjoyed speaking with people who shared his commitment. He was so well loved that after his death, his followers built a monastery in his name below his hermit cave. St. Anthony's is the oldest active monastery in the world. As you approach the base of the mountain, you'll be awestruck by the two tall towers, each adorned with a Coptic cross. Behind the fortress-like walls that surround them are churches, chapels, and chambers for the 100+ monks who live there. Green palm trees signify the availability of water and scattered date palms and olive trees are sources of nourishment, as they were 16 centuries ago.
This site, along with neighboring St. Paul's monastery – built for one of Egypt's greatest saints, Paul of Thebes –inspires monks and visitors alike. If you're ready to leave your worldly goods behind (well, at least for the moment) and retrace the steps of these fathers of monasticism, this tour's for you.
The devil in disguise
While St. Anthony went to great lengths to shield himself from materialistic things and impure thoughts, the devil relentlessly tempted him. One night, the devil filled Anthony's cave with ravening beasts. When Anthony refused to back down and reaffirmed his commitment to the Lord, a heavenly light broke through, chasing them away. Anthony asked his Lord, "Where wast thou?" Translation: "Where the hell have you been?"
Please exit the port terminal building or go to the end of the tender pier drop-off to meet your guide. Look for our displayed logo sign. Staying at a hotel? Be sure to advise the GoBe Crew so we can meet you in the lobby.
Lunch is not included. Please plan to bring food and drink or local currency to buy your meal and snacks. Although the majority of the road to the monastery is paved, it can be a bit dusty and bumpy. Monasteries will be closed during Christian feasts and during the fasting dates of Coptic Christians.
You will be walking for about one mile, mostly over gravel/paved and uneven paths, with some steps. If you have limited mobility, this tour may be too challenging for you to enjoy and maintain the pace of the group. It is not wheelchair accessible.
Cultural, Scenic, Bus Tour, Walking Tour
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages.
Special Medical Restriction
If you have limited mobility, this tour may be too challenging for you to enjoy and maintain the pace of the group. It is not wheelchair accessible.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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