Monastery of Saint Anthony
The town of Coma, near Herakleopolis, was the birthplace of Saint Anthony the Great (ca. 251). At the age of 18, Anthony became a hermit. He is considered one of the founders of the monasticism in the Christian World. After a life of 105 years, he was buried in the old church of Saint Anthony in the monastery. The monastery lies near El-Qalzam Mountain, near El-Zaafarana, in the Red Sea Governorate, east of Egypt. It was founded in 356, just after the saint's death; thus, it is the oldest active monastery in the world. It takes its water supply from the desert wells. Exposed to recurrent attacks launched by the Bedouins, the fortified monastery was damaged and restored several times. Within its compound, the monastery has a mill, a bakery, a library with more than 1500 manuscripts, a number of gardens as well as five churches. The walls of the monastery are rich with paintings and depictions, the oldest of which dates back to the 7th century. A cave located 2 km far from the monastery is said to have been the place where Saint Anthony used to live. This cave is blessed with a splendid view over the sea and the surrounding mountains.