kml 28.936 32.352
Was fed by Ravens for over 10 years, a solitary raven brought St. Anthony, who lived to 105, half a loaf of bread each day until he died.
St. Anthony roamed the desert for many years until he came across this the site of the first monastic tradition, started firstly by Anthony the followed by Paul and supported by Ravens.
Monasteries originated from the cave dwelling monks converging on the desert springs.
Later walls were built around them and the cave dwellers came out from their caves to form small communities this was brought about mostly from the need from survival mostly from the elements but sometimes attacking Bedouins drove the monks together, where otherwise they would have had solitary lives.
These monasteries are the first in the world.
They are St. Paul’s and St. Anthony’s.
Visiting times are from 4am till 4pm.
There are 131 monks living at the monastery at present, much of the building dates back to the 13th century and some has been restored with the help of USAid project. Notably the Byzantine fresco’s in the chapel of the St. Anthony restored by Italian artists. Some of the fresco’s date back as far as 6th century.
From here you can visit the gardens, the gates and also the spring which supported so many monks.
The spring supports 400l of water each day. St. Anthony used to live in a cave 200m above this spring until St. Paul arrived, at which point many more monks came to the area. The spring was able to support them also.
You are able to drink the spring water which is kind of metallic with a hint of phosphorus.
At the end of the trip you are invited to buy from the shop. As I enter music is turned on to add to the buying ambience. I buy some honey, a bottle of monastic wine and a postcard of a particularly ugly nurse shark.
There are many different gifts and languages.