The abandoned Monastery of St. Simeon is one of the largest and
best preserved Coptic monasteries of all Egypt. The monastery is
located on a hill on the west bank near the Aga Khan Mausoleum
in Aswan and was once inhabited by thousands of residents.
The construction of the monastery begun in the 6th century, but
it’s believed that it was not completed until the 7th century.
It was first dedicated to Amba Hadra, a bishop of Aswan and a
saint who lived in the fourth century. It is said that Amba
Hadra, on the day after his wedding, encountered a funeral
procession which inspired him to live the remaining years of his
life as a hermit.
Originally, the monastery had walls ten meters high and towers
which were used as lookout posts against enemies. From its point
on the top of the hill, the monks could see for kilometres in
all directions, and any approach to attack the monastery would
be uphill in soft sand.
The monastery was rebuilt in the 10th century, but destroyed in
1173 by Saladin, who feared that it might serve as a refuge of
Christian Nubians who made forays into southern Egypt.
Nowadays, the lower level of stone is mostly intact, but the
upper level of mud-brick has vanished.
Inside the monastery there is a small church where icons and
paintings are still visible. The walls are painted with pictures
of the apostles and angels in bright colours and Byzantine style.
Many of the frescos were deliberately defaced by the Muslim
(as from July 2013)
Adult: 30 LE
Child: 15 LE
HOW TO REACH THERE
- By private felucca or motorboat, then a camel ride.
- By car (20-30 minutes drive from the corniche via the Old