Monastery of St. Simeon Approx. Time: 2 hours
Activity Level: Easy to Moderate

This 6th century monastery was one of the largest in all of Egypt! This abandoned monastery near the Aga Khan Mausoleum on the west bank at Aswan is considered to be notably typical of early Christian Monasteries, and with perhaps thousands of residents, was one of the largest Coptic Monasteries in Egypt. Building was begun in the 6th century, but it is believed that most of it did not take place until the 7th century. It was first dedicated to Amba Hadra (Amba Samaan, Anba Hadra), a bishop of Aswan and saint of the late 4th century. It was said that just after his wedding, he encountered a funeral procession which inspired him to live the remainder of his life as a hermit.

This fortress and Christian monastery originally had walls ten meters tall and keeps, or towers, which were used as lookout posts against enemies. The lower level of stone is mostly intact, but the upper level of mud-brick has all but vanished. The monastery was rebuilt in the 10th century, but destroyed in 1173 by Saladin, who feared that it might serve as a refuge of marauding Christian Nubians who made forays into southern Egypt.

Courtesy of Egypt Tourism Board