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“Interested in the Coptic religion??”

Monastery of St. Simeon
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Private Tour: St Simeon's Monastery
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Tour of St Simeon Monastery in Aswan
Ranked #16 of 36 things to do in Aswan
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Reviewed 12 February 2014

You really need an interest in Coptic history to appreciate this site which is in two parts, old & new
Although you can take a camel from Qubbet el-Hawa (i.e. the ticket office for the Noble’s Tombs) we took a taxi round by road from Aswan.
On the right of the road is the current monastery, which is very much live and under re-building/expansion. They have rooms for rent – a form of retreat – which it appears anyone can use.
We didn’t go in since a service was in progress, but toilets and cold drinks were available nearby
A few hundred meters further on, on the left, you can see the ruins of the ’Old’ monastery, Deir el-Anba Sama’an, so there is no need to enter the ‘New’ monastery. Ticket office is ‘round the back’, & ‘down the hill’ from the car park, a paved path showing the way. One ticket is currently 30LE
Do your research before you go, the local guide speaking little English, although he mimes actions such as the grape trampling. You may, of course, have your own guide. For some there may not be much to see, in that there are no hieroglyphics or statues etc., but coming across by camel may be a highlight of your day?
Apart from domestic areas like kitchens, Grape trampling pits etc. the main sights are:-
• A long corridor with the monk’s cells off to both sides and a room for ‘non-believing’ travellers at the end, which has graffiti from various other beliefs such as Judaism and others
• The Church area with it’s hole in the niche through which the priest would hear confession
• The stables for the camels
This area obviously means a lot to the Coptic faith, bus loads arriving when we were there.

3  Thank eLaReF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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30 - 34 of 81 reviews

Reviewed 25 October 2013

The monastery "the old monastery" was so peaceful and although the guide spoke very little English he made all clear so overall very enjoyable. This was the second time visiting and would go again just for the views and calmness of the place. We also went to the new monastery that is under construction which we found fascinating, and the people very welcoming. We made the visit by private taxi from Aswan which I think was preferable.

2  Thank Ann200844
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 October 2013

Interesting to visit while doing a camel trip through the desert. The monastery needs restoration, through the ruins one can imagine how life was for the early christian monks in Egypt.

2  Thank Mtltravel2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 August 2013

This is one of the best things I have ever done in Egypt. The camel trek was great fun. We were all alone for most of the trek - apart from the camel keepers and accompanying soldier! Once we were used to the camels, we were allowed to complete much of the journey without assistance. We hired a motorboat to take us to the ticket office for The Tombs of The Nobles. On arriving, we negotiated camel hire for the journey to The Monastery of St Simeon. It was extremely good value to visit The Tombs of The Nobles and The Monastery. Great afternoon, special memories. Well worth doing.

Thank Sunrise E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 July 2013

Egypt and Nubia were the sites of some of the earliest monasteries, communities of believers isolated from the world in desolate locations. St. Simeon’s delivers that feeling of isolation and is worth a visit for the quiet, the clarity of the ruins, and the experience of walking on your own across the desert. It’s on the west bank. You can take the main, more northerly, ferry across (the one that goes near Tomb of the Nobles and bet el-Kerem), then hire a camel or walk up and across the dunes. (I understand that you can also take the more southerly ferry, which will get you much closer to the monastery, but people told us that ferry is not always running.) We walked southward from our guest house, Bet El-Kerem. Either way the walk takes at least 30-60 minutes. You will climb some dunes, scramble up and down rocky slopes. Take water, and munchies. (Fortunately there are no ‘services’ at the site. It is pristine.)
The camel ride could be fun, but we preferred the experience of the desert trek. The silence and isolation are supreme. While there are occasional glimpses of Aswan across the Nile, most of the time you see nothing but desert. We did two other visitors while we were there. The place is big and complex, on two levels, with lots of steps. Do take a guide book to help interpret the structure of the place, but you will easily see the many and various functional areas for cooking, baking, washing, sleeping. The young and affable ticket collector will guide you around. His English is strong on intent and weak on intelligibility, but indulge him. His charm will be part of your memory of the place. Please tip him. After a walk through the highpoints, he’ll leave you to wander at your own pace for as long as you like. Plan on it!
Camel drivers will be about the place as you leave, offering rides back to the ferry or down to the Nile where you can walk back along the Nile.
On the way back, we walked eastward towards the Nile from the monastery and followed the winding path above the river, desert to the west, lush green fields and the river to the east. As we walked north up and down the narrow path along the ridge, a fellow rowing a boat northward yelled to ask us if we wanted a ride back north. That could be fun, but the walk was part of the adventure. The round trip, with 30-45 minutes at the monastery took about 3.5 hours.
We were there in January 2013. The weather was perfect, but even in winter Aswan can be warm. We went fairly early in the day and were back by noon. I could see starting out about sunrise to see dawn in the desert on the way there, or doing it late in the afternoon to see the sunset on the way back. Either of those choices might involve darkness, so I suggest going by camel.

Thank bobinathens
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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