The Saint Simeon Monastery is situated on Elephantine Island in the Nile River; near Aswan. Unfortunately; archaeologists have never been very interested in the monastery’s ruins; which is one of the reasons why it isn’t included in many Egypt travel packages. However, because to the ever-increasing appeal of Nile River cruises and the reality that the island is also home to several other notable attractions; such as the Tombs of the Nobles; they have firmly established themselves on the tourist map in recent years.
Saint Simeon Monastery was founded by a monk in the 7th century and later attributed to Anba Hedra; a local saint from the 4th century. According to folklore, Anba Hedra wedded when he was eighteen years old; but after seeing a funeral procession on the day of his wedding; he rejected mankind and instantly resolved to devote himself to celibacy and become an ascetic.
Anba Hedra, afterwards known as St. Simeon, spent the following seven years studying religion under Saint Baiman’s guidance. Anba Hedra spent the following eight years after finishing his education in ascetic practises before finally retiring to the desert to devote his life to studying St. Anthony.
Later, Anba Hedra relocated to Elephantine Island and began construction on a monastery. The original edifice was made of stone and mud bricks, and it was encircled by a ten-foot-high wall; giving the Saint Simeon Monastery a fortress-like aspect. During the 10th century; the monastery was also rebuilt or at least extended, according to records.
The monastery could accommodate over 300 monks and 100 pilgrims by the time it was finished in the 10th century. The monastery’s monks would go into Nubia in groups with the goal of converting the Nubians to Christianity. Saladin and his men almost completely destroyed Saint Simeon Monastery in 1173, and it was never restored.
Visiting The Monastery Of St. Simeon
Before the monastery was destroyed, a Muslim pilgrim visited it. The chamber where St. Simeon used to devote several hours at a time meditating is also open to visitors. He used to hang his beard to the roof above his head in case he fell asleep during these long prayer sessions, according to folklore.
Other attractions at the site include Saint Simeon Monastery, which is home to the Tombs of the Nobles, which date back to the Old Kingdom and are some of Egypt’s oldest ancient tombs.
Tourists arriving on the island are nearly always greeted by locals who rent camels, which is a great way to get around and see the sights, including the monastery ruins. Visitors should haggle for a decent cost and make it clear to the camel operator how long they want to hire the camel for, as is customary when hiring a camel.
The majority of Egypt tours do not include a visit to Elephantine Island. It’s also not included in the majority of our Nile cruises from Aswan to Luxor or Luxor to Aswan. However, day cruises to the island as well as a few other locations, such as Kitchener’s Island, can be arranged. It’s always preferable to specify that you decide to visit Saint Simeon Monastery as part of your Egypt trip package when making your reservation.