Saint Catherine’s Monastery And The World’s Oldest Library; Kaushik; Amusing Planet
Deep in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, in a region of wilderness made up of granite rock and rugged mountains, lies the town of Saint Catherine. It was here, at the foot of Mount Sinai, that Moses is believed to have received the Ten Commandments from God. Naturally, this region is sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike.
Between 548 and 565, the Eastern Roman emperor, Justinian the Great, ordered the construction of a monastery dedicated to Saint Catherine at this site. The monastery has never been destroyed or looted in all its history, making it one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world. It also contains the world’s oldest continually operating library, where is preserved the world’s second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in a variety of languages, outnumbered only by the Vatican Library.
The monastery is surrounded by a massive wall, the original one, erected by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. Until the 20th century, access was through a door high in the outer walls. The entrance is now through a smaller gate to the left of the main gate.