Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Barquq (Photo: Wikipedia)
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is launching tonight at 7pm its third virtual tour of a distinguished Coptic monument, the Red Monastery in Sohag.
Tomorrow, a virtual tour of the Mosque and Madrassa (School) of Sultan Barquq in Al-Muiz Street will be launched, while on Tuesday the Ben Ezra Jewish Synagogue in Old Cairo will be featured.
The Red Monastery is located 21 kilometres west of Sohag province. It is considered one of the most important monasteries established during Christianity’s early history. It is known as the Red Monastery because of the red bricks that make up most of its masonry. White limestone was also employed in the building’s construction, as well as pink and black granite columns.
The monastery was founded by Saint Bishoy in the beginning of the fourth century AD, but suffered of two fires, the first was during the Roman Period, and the second as a result of Berber attacks.
All that remains of the Red Monastery is its church and surrounding fortification walls to the south. Remains of a structure north of the church also survived and are thought to belong to an industrial area.
The main church is composed of a long rectangular space composed of three wings. The middle wing is the largest of the three. The Church of the Virgin Mary is attached to its south-west corner. On its eastern end, the monastery’s church terminates in a tripartite structure decorated with murals in tempera paint depicting Biblical scenes that include Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Four Gospels, and the Apostles.
The fort occupies the area south of the church, to which its structures are attached. It likely dates to the reign of Empress Helena.
It is a roughly square building that consists of four floors, the ground and first floors of baked bricks, and the top two of simple sun-dried mud brick. The fort itself contains several units that allowed monks to reside in it for long stretches of time, including a church, cells, a storage room, and a water source.
The tour comes within the scope of an initiative the ministry has launched in collaboration with partners from scientific and archaeological institutions to enable people worldwide to enjoy ancient Egyptian civilisation while staying at home under precautionary measures taken to fight the global coronavirus pandemic.