Peninsula of Sinai: The Eastern Gate to Egypt
Because of its importance, and as the Eastern Gate to Egypt, Sinai witnessed most of the invasions and wars of Egypt throughout the history and therefore has always been a matter of military concern to the Egyptian rulers to guard and develop the society on Egypt’s land.
The Peninsula of Sinai is considered as the only part of the Egyptian land on the Asian Continent, with an area of about 61,000 squared meters, and more than one million citizens populating its land.
Sinai is gifted with a very strategic location, as the land bridge between Africa and Asia, as well as its richness with minerals, precious stones, metals and petroleum. The St. Catherine Monastery marks a highly spiritual spot at the foot of Mount Moses which is considered the location of the Biblical Mount Sinai, which has been mentioned in all Heavenly Religions, and a very important station in the Journey of the Holy Family.
Horus Military Way
Sinai has been part of the Egyptian history since the Paleolithic period and continuously until the present, playing a very important military and commercial role. The Horus Military Way connects Egypt with the Syro-Palestinian Lands via North Sinai. Since the Old Kingdom it was a commercial route, while during the New Kingdom it was developed to connect a series of forts, garrisons and way stations along with temples, houses and farmlands discovered and excavated in the sites of Pelusium, Qantara and Tell Habua. The fort discovered near the ancient fortified city Tell Habua features the ancient Egyptian military architecture.
Land of Turquoise: Mining at Sinai
The “Land of Turquoise” as it was called by the ancient Egyptians, became an important destination for mining expeditions since the Old Kingdom, specifically at Wadi Maghareh where the Egyptian Kings from the third until the twenty-ninth Dynasties had their names recorded at the mining sites.
Another mining site, Serabit El khadem, famous for the temple dedicated to goddess Hathor “The Lady of Turquoise”, was built in the Middle Kingdom and enlarged during the New Kingdom coinciding with the development of the Horus Military Way.
Spiritual Mount Sinai
The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai is in the heart of the Peninsula, at the very place where the heavenly appearance is said to have happened to Moses in the Burning Bush, beneath the Mount of the Decalogue. This is the oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastery in Egypt, with a history that can be traced back over seventeen centuries. The monastery also enshrines the relics of Saint Catherine. As a sign of religious tolerance, a mosque was erected within the enclosure of the monastery, with a wooden pulpit Minbar, donated by Sultan Al-Afdal in 1106 AD.
Saladin's Citadel is one of the greatest Islamic monuments in Southern Sinai, built in 1171 AD at the same time of the construction of the citadel in Cairo. The fortification, on an island overseeing the Gulf of Aqaba, was erected to protect Egypt from the Crusaders and to secure the pilgrimage route from Egypt to Mecca through Sinai.
Sinai is the Eastern gate to Egypt and the only part of the Egyptian land on the Asian Continent.