Saint Catherine’s Monastery Walls – Mount Sinai Art
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Visiting Saint Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai was an amazing experience. Santa Katarina is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world. It was ordered to be built by Emperor Justinian in 565 AD. The high walls of this ancient monastery protected it across the centuries. Until modern times the only way over the walls you see in this print was to be hoisted up through a door high in the fortified monastery. Today it’s far easier to gain access and is a site sacred to both Christians and Muslims.
This print shows my parting view of Saint Catherine’s Monastery. The next time I would see those walls was in the dark of an Egyptian night after having ascended Mount Sinai. And honestly I was so exhausted after climbing the 3,750 Steps of Repentance that I’m surprised I hadn’t blacked out! So this is how I will always remember those ancient Christian monastery walls bathed in golden light.
But the element of this Saint Catherine’s Monastery print that I feel best reflects this area of the world is the Bedouin approaching the camera. This was definitely their world. They guide people up and down Mount Sinai and live in this rugged place. And they are so much a part of the environment that the climb didn’t fatigue them. When I first encountered the Bedouins they seemed so mysterious and reserved. Yet I had an engaging conversation about world events with an elderly Bedouin at a rest stop part way up Mount Sinai. And where I was gasping for breath, he told me he made the trek several times a week.
Although there’s an incredible amount of history surrounding Mount Sinai and Saint Catherine’s Monastery, at the end of the day, it was the people I met there that most moved me. And that’s why this particular print is special to me. It shows both the ancient location and the people who inhabit the landscape there.
Have you visited Santa Katarina yourself? Or does this part of the world fascinate you from afar? I would love to hear what you find most striking about this Sinai print?
Note: Saint Catherine’s Monastery is a UNESCO designated World Heritage site.