Friday, December 28, 2007

Daily Photo - St Simeon Monastery, Aswan

The monastery of St Simeon will be the Daily Photo for today and tomorrow. The monastery was considerably important in its heyday. It is very large, partially ruined, but it has many fascinating features and some of the original painting survives. Part of the success of its survival probably comes down to the fact that it is not a particularly important tourist attraction.

The monastery dates to the 7th Century, but was rebuilt in the 10th Century AD. It was dedicated to the 4th/5th Century Coptic Bishop of Aswan, Amba Samaan. Interesting features, arranged over two floors, are the church, the monks's cells (arranged around a fabulous vaulted corridor), the pottery kilns and the kitchens. Food and water had to be brought from elsewhere, as the monastery was somewhat isolated from the Nile and farming lands. The entire complex is enclosed by tall thick walls, which were characteristic of monasteries of the period in Egypt, and were designed to fend off raids.

The monastery was abandoned in the 13th Century.

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