Sohag and Akhmim Symposium | Red Monastery

The Red Monastery is located in the village of Nag’ Abu Azizah. The name The Red Monastery comes from the color of its exterior walls, which were built out of baked bricks. There are very few historical references to the monastery, including a Coptic manuscript showing that it was a working monastery in the 11th century, as well as a reference by Johann Wansleben in 1672 that the monastery itself, apart from the church, was in ruins when he visited. The Mamluks set fire to the monastery in 1798.

Today, the monastery is surrounded by the village to the south and east of the church. Land to the west has been reclaimed and is presently in use by the monastery for a church and housing for the monks, farming, a cemetery and various service buildings.

A large archaeological dig is located adjacent to the walls of the ancient monastery. The church of the ancient monastery was built in the second half of the fifth century, and is much smaller than the church in The White Monastery, but has a strikingly similar floorplan and architectural perspective. The most striking attribute of the church is the triconch sanctuary which has been uniquely preserved.

The walls have columns with niches in two rows, with domes above. A restoration process is underway that has resulted in the unearthing of very rare and spectacular wall paintings in the church, one of the few examples of such decoration dating from the fifth century.