Mount Sinai Pilgrimage

Mount Sinai (also called Jebel Musa or Mount Moses, or Mount Horeb) on the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt is the traditional site where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. It is 2285 metres high.

In Arabic the words jabal and ṭūr have similar meanings, and Mount Sinai is mentioned in the Quran chapter 'The Fig' (Sūrat al-Tīn) as "Ṭūr Sīnīn". Jabal Musa is the Bedouin and Christian traditional location of the Biblical Mount Sinai.There are some small chapels at the summit, from which there are spectacular sunrise views. The starting point for the climb is St. Catherine's Monastery at the base of the mountain.
Life within the monastery follows that of coenobitic communities, influenced by the earlier more heremetic monasticism. The Archbishop is also the Hegoumenos of the community. The senior fathers hold the various offices that comprise the Holy Council of the Fathers. These are the Dikaios, the Skevophylax, the Oikonomos, the Treasurer, the Secretary, and the Librarian. Each task is undertaken in humility and obedience, and in responsibility to the Hegoumenos and the community as a whole. 

Bible History

According to Bedouin tradition, this is the mountain where God gave laws to the Israelites. However, the earliest Christian traditions place this event at the nearby Mount Serbal, where a monastery was founded in the 4th century. In the 6th century the monastery moved to the foot of Mount Catherine, following the guidance of Josephus's earlier claim that Sinai was the highest mountain in the area. Jebel Musa, adjacent to Mount Catherine, was only equated with Sinai by Christians after the 15th century. For Muslims, there is a chapter named after this mountain in the Qur’an, entitled Sūrat al-Tīn, sūrah 95, in which God swears by the fig and the olive, by Mount Sinai, and by the city of Mecca.

The geographical locations of the events narrated in the Bible are not known for sure, with a wide variety of theories offered by scholars. Nonetheless, it is not unreasonable to accept the traditions that have evolved through the beliefs of early Christians.
What To See

From St. Catherine's Monastery, it is an uphill walk or camel ride to the summit of Mount Sinai. The main route to the summit is known as the Path of Moses (Arabic: Sikket Sayidna Musa) and is lined with remains of various chapels. The steeper, more direct route (Siket Sayidna Musa) is up the 3,750 "steps of penitence" in the ravine behind the monastery. 

The summit is an excellent place from which to enjoy the spectacular sunrise. 
There is both a mosque and a chapel at the summit of Mount Moses. The Chapel of the Holy Trinity was built in 1934 using the remains of the chapel built by Justinian in the 6th century. Justinian's chapel itself replaced an earlier chapel, built in 363. 
Clearly visible from the mountain is the village of St. Catherine, located some distance from the Monastery on the El Raha plain.
Saint Catherine's Monastery (Greek: Μονὴ τῆς Ἁγίας Αἰκατερίνης) lies on the Sinai Peninsula, at the mouth of an inaccessible gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai in Saint Katherine city in Egypt. The monastery is Greek Orthodox and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been called the oldest working Christian monastery in the world – although the Monastery of Saint Anthony, situated across the Red Sea in the desert south of Cairo, makes the same claim. 


Not only faithful of the Christian Faith but also those of the other two great monotheistic religions, Judaism and Islam, come here, as well as those in search of spiritual help. The bedouin inhabitants of the region see the monastery as their protector.  The Sinai monastery ministers to all who come to the site as pilgrims, seeking spiritual consolation and the increase of faith. 

The marble chest containing the relics of Saint Catherine is located at the south side of the sanctuary. It is the work of Procopius the stonecutter, who took nine years to complete the shrine, which replaced an earlier marble chest, which is preserved today in the monastery’s treasury. Inside are two reliquaries, one enshrining the precious head of the martyr, and the other her left hand. The relics of Saint Catherine are brought out for the veneration of the faithful on special occasions, at which time each pilgrim is given a silver ring bearing the monogram of the saint, in honor of the ring that Saint Catherine received from Christ. 

In addition to the shrines on Mount Horeb and the hermitage of Saints Galakteon and Episteme, there exist four shrines worth noting here. These are the shrine of Saint George Arselaites at Wadi Rahman, two shrines at Raitho (one near the ancient lavra, the other in the area of Abu Suera), and yet another in the region of Hodra. 

Getting There

Cairo airport is the main point of entry. Your passport should be valid for at least for six months following the end of your visit. The required entry visa may be obtained at the airport prior to passport control.

The distance from Cairo to Sinai is 430 kilometres. There is a daily bus from Cairo to Sinai that leaves from the Sinai International Bus Terminal in Abbasiya, a suburb of Cairo, and the trip lasts 8 hours. However, travelling either by private car or with a cab, the self-same distance can be covered in about 6 hours.

Another point of entry is the Sharm el-Sheikh Airport on the southern point of the Sinai. The distance from here is 250 kilometres and it can be covered only by private car or taxi, as there are no public buses.

A third point of entry is that of Taba, the Egyptian point of entry for visitors from Israel. 

Where To Stay

Various local possibilities.

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