All Cities - Wadi Natrun

It is common to allege that Wadi Natrun was the actual birthplace for Christian monasticism. This theory can be challenged by the theory that the Essenes of Palestine were the first Christians, and they practiced monasticism.

The reason why the early Copts chose to install themselves out in the desert was more than piety. Under the Roman rule the Egyptian Christians were persecuted, especially around year 300, and many found refuge out of the cities. When Christianity became state religion in 330 Wadi Natrun was already firmly established as an important Christian centre, a place of piety.

One of the church towers at Deir as-Suryani

The abbot of Deir Anba Bishoi (no. 3 from left) greets out guide, Father Plagius (no. 4 from left)


Wadi Natron's importance for Egypt goes far beyond the monasteries. Natron was produced from the deposits of sodium carbonate which were left when the salt lakes dried up. This natron was central in the mummification process, used for pharaohs and wealthy Egyptians in the times of the ancient religion.
Deir as-Suryani 
Deir as-Suryani is both the smallest and most compact of the 4 monasteries
after you enter, you feel like you stepped into the set of a Star Wars movie. There are domes, staircases, wide doors, and grand balconies all over. All put together with good taste.

In the 8th century, the theological quarrel was settled, and the monks of the new monastery returned to Anba Bishoi. A Syrian Christian bought it, forming a community of Syrian monks here.



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