Discover some of Christianity’s holiest sites
Located in the desert at the halfway point between Cairo and Alexandria, Wadi al-Natrun is regarded as one of the most sacred places in the world for Christian monasticism. For 1,500 years, the monks of Wadi al-Natrun enjoyed the isolation of the desert, nestled in a quiet oasis of palm trees and lush greenery. This area is home to four remaining monasteries, each rebuilt and restored over the centuries to preserve its important heritage and magnificent Coptic art.
What You Need to See
Wadi al-Natrun is famous for its religious significance, but the valley is also home to spectacular nature and wildlife. The name “Wadi al-Natrun” refers to the presence of eight different lakes that produce natron salt, which was mined by the ancient Egyptians and used in burial and mummification rites.
A saltwater lake with a freshwater spring bubbling up in the middle—the salty water is believed to have healing powers.
The Keep, or Al-Qasr, the oldest tower in Wadi al-Natrun, built over a well and storehouse to keep the monks alive in the event of a long siege.
The Christian monks of the monasteries of Scetis in Roman Egypt who were massacred by Berbers during a raid in 444 AD.
The Well of the Martyrs, at the St Bishoy Monastery, where the Berbers allegedly washed their swords after they killed the Forty-Nine Martyrs of Scetis. The well still produces fresh water.