Probably the first monastery in the valley, the monastery was erected in the 4th century by Saint Macarius of Egypt. In the 6th century, the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria was exiled to the monastery, and this gave the whole valley a great importance as a second seat of the Coptic Church. Several saints and patriarchs– such as Saint John the Dwarf, Saint Isidore, Saint Arsenius, Saint Moses the Black, Saint Serapion– all came from this monastery. The monastery has defensive walls, a tower with the traditional drawbridge, a mill, a number of cells, a chapel for the Virgin and three churches. Containing the relics of many saints, the monastery has the remains of Saint Maqar, Saint John the Baptist, Elisha the Prophet, 49 martyrs killed by the Bedouins, and of 16 Patriarchs of the Coptic Church. Like the other monasteries in the valley, this one suffered from the destruction caused by the Bedouins, and was restored several times.