In the 7th century, the Arab conquests took place, but the monastery was not destroyed. The prophet Mohammed himself gave his protection to this place, which was given a corresponding charter. Its copy is still kept in the local museum, and the original is in Istanbul in Turkey. However, the period of the reign of the Arab rulers left a mark on the monastery - in the 10th century one of the chapels was rebuilt into a mosque.
The monastery has survived until our days untouched. Nothing has changed here, except for the gate that was hollowed out in the fortress wall. Previously, you could get inside only on a special lift, the remains of which can be seen on the north-eastern wall.
Now the monastery of St. Catherine is not only an ancient monument, but also a repository of ancient books, scrolls and icons. Also here are the shrines associated with the life of the prophet Moses. This place is sacred for both Christians and Jews.
How to tour and what to see
The first thing that strikes tourists is the mighty walls of the monastery of St. Catherine. Fortunately, the monastery has never been besieged by large enemy armies. The walls were created to protect against local nomads. During the Byzantine Empire, a permanent garrison of soldiers was on duty here, but in subsequent epochs monks themselves took care of the protection of the monastery.
What to see - Burning Bush
The main attraction inside is the Burning Bush. It is a bush of blackthorn, which played a big role in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Recall this story. The Israelis were in slavery in Egypt, where they were forced to work hard and were oppressed in every possible way. At one point, the Egyptians began killing the babies of the Israelite male. One of the women gave birth to a son and hid him for three months. When it was already impossible to hide, she put it in the basket and let it run along the river.
The basket was caught by one of the daughters of Pharaoh and took the child to her, naming the name of Moses. When Moses grew up, he saw the overseer beat one Jew. Moses killed the overseer, but was forced to flee and go into exile.
On the way, Moses stopped at the well. The girls approached the well to water their sheep, but other shepherds began to drive them away. Moses interceded for the girls, for which their father sheltered him. Moses stayed with these people and soon married one of these girls.
One day Moses herded a herd and saw a very strange phenomenon - a bush of thorns burned, but did not burn. He approached to look at this miracle and heard from the bush the voice of God. God ordered Moses to take off his shoes, and then ordered to go to Egypt to liberate his people from slavery.
This bush that burned, but did not burn, is called "Burning Bush". It was near this bush that the first chapel was built, and then the monastery was rebuilt around. The chapel was rebuilt into a large temple.
What to see is the well of Moses
We mentioned the well, next to which Moses met seven girls. This well is now on the territory of the monastery, and it is also watched by tourists during the excursion.
From the moment of construction up to now it is the main source of water for the inhabitants of the monastery. Of course, he looks completely different than during the life of Moses.
It's strange, but there are no legends about the miraculous properties of the water from this well. We are talking about official sources. The guide can tell you any "fiction".
If we are talking about Egyptian guides, then it's worth mentioning the peculiarities of their work. They tell so that tourists were interested, and the problem of reliability is considered insignificant. We advise you to be careful not to take all their words "on faith."
What to see - the basilica of the Transfiguration
This temple was built on the site of the chapel in the 6th century. There is a lot of remarkable for tourists, but the most important is the mosaic of the Transfiguration and the relics of St. Catherine.
The arches above the altar are decorated with a stunning mosaic that has been preserved since the foundation of the church from the 6th century. In the 20 th century, it was cleared and restored by American specialists.
Many tourists do not notice this mosaic, as it is closed by a part of the iconostasis. You need to go through the temple ahead to see it.
Also in the Basilica of the Transfiguration there are several unique icons, but we will not talk about them in detail. This is a topic for articles on religious sites, and our site is a tourist destination. Just go, look, everything is very beautiful here.