Isolated in the Red Sea Mountains, St Anthony’s Monastery (AD 361-3), marked the beginning of the monastic tradition. It is the oldest Coptic monastery in Egypt.
Legend has it that Anthony, orphaned at 18, retreated to the mountains to serve God. His disciples built the monastery on the site of his grave.
It is the largest in the country, with several churches and chapels and extensive living quarters, but only 25 resident monks. On the interior walls of the Church of St Anthony are some vivid 13th-century murals.
Two kilometers (just over one mile) to the northeast of the monastery is the cave where St Anthony is said to have spent his last years.