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Wadi Natrun

Wadi Natrun

1. Deir Anba Bishoi

2. Deir as-Suryani

3. Deir Abu Maqar

4. Deir al-Baramus


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Deir as-Suryani

Wadi Natrun, Egypt

Wadi Natrun, Egypt

Deir as-Suryani is both the smallest and most compact of the 4 monasteries, yet I rate it as the aesthetically most attractive.
Immediately 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.
While the other 3 monasteries were founded about the same time, in the 4th century, this came along 2 centuries later. After a dispute in Anba Bishoi about the importance of Virgin Mary, a group which supported here central position in Christian theology were forced to found their own community. They didn't travel far, only 500 metres, but for some time, there was gulf of disagreement and distrust between the two.
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.
Deir as-Suryani claims that it holds the remains of 12 saints, as well as a lock of hair from mary Magdalene.
The Church of the Virgin is clearly worth a visit, dating back to 980. The door is quite remarkable, full of illustrations from Christian history.

By Tore Kjeilen