On 9th March 2017, German scholars, enrolled in the Wafedin programme that is initiated by the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education, accompanied by DAAD Cairo Office interns, gathered for a trip to Wadi Natron, a desert strip located about 120 km to the north of Cairo.

After a comfortable drive the bus stopped for a first visit at the monastery “Deir el Anba Bishoy”. It dates to the 5th century and contains five churches and hosts the relics of St. Bishoy, which is incorrupt until today, as per eyewitnesses. The coffin of Pope Shenouda III, the 117th Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, can also be visited and worshiped here.
At the monastery “Deir El Surian” the guiding monk provided interesting facts about the “Syrian door” with its inlays of ivory and representing different symbols predicting important events in history.

Close by, “Deir Baramos” was the last stop for the group. Ancient flour mills of granite stone, wooden farming tools and impressive fortified walls once more showed the hard and exhausting routines the monks are exposed to in their daily life. Moreover, it showed that they are rewarded with a calm and spiritual life that they choose and highly appreciate.

The afternoon was rounded up by visiting El-Hammra Ecolodge, not far from the area of the monasteries, where lunch and a quiet environment were the perfect location for talking about the impressions of the day.
This trip was a great opportunity getting to know more about the Coptic church and the holy places in Wadi Natron.