Egypt's oldest monasteries stand at the forefront of Christian monastic history. Isolated in the mountains near the Red Sea, they have spectacular settings and views of the coast. Getting to the monasteries isn't exactly a picnic, but their remoteness was the reason the saints chose these caves as their hermitages. The saints' endurance in the desert—against Bedouin raids, changing religious tides, and physical privation—give them an allure augmented by paintings and icons that add color to their otherwise stark appeal.
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