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Mount Sinai

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As they call it now

In an expedition more than 200 years ago, setting out from Denmark, in the search of Mount Sinai, the result was disappointing. If there ever had been any Mount Sinai, nobody any longer knew of it. Of course the legend of Moses and the 10 commandments, has its origins in a period of Jewish history where historical accuracy was not like we know it now. Every serious historian or theologian will admit to this story most likely not being true. The truth in it (and there is no reason to believe anything but that the Jews once were in Egypt, and that most of them later left) lived on inside the traditions of those days, where the essence of the stories was not the specific historical events, but the frame context and the message. The content could be changed over and over again, according to who told the story and who listened.

Monastery of St. Catherine

The advent of tourism in Egypt, starting in the 19. century, brought Mount Sinai back on the map. Tourists, all Christians, demanded to see the place where the Israeli religion turned into Judaism,- the forerunner of Christianity. One of the biggest of the mountains, with a setting beautiful enough to attract pagans, simply had to be Mount Sinai.
There are many convents spread around Sinai, this is the place where the people of God wandered around for 40 years. But the most beautiful must be the convent of St Catherine which has been here since 337 AD when it was ordered built by empress Helena, in the place believed to have been the place of the burning bush. One part of the monastery today is actually a mosque.
Getting here is easy, communications run swiftly from most regional centres on Sinai. Lodging close to Mount Sinai is equally easy, as a response to tourism's demands. Ascending the mountain itself can be done by almost everyone, and no guiding is necessary unless for those wanting stories on the trip. But in winter time, the best season for travelling in Egypt, snow can come in your way, so beware.

Eat and Sleep


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By Tore Kjeilen