Things To Do In Sohag
Visit The White Monastery
Currently the best reason to stop at Sohag is to visit two early Coptic monasteries nearby, which trumpet the victory of Christianity over Egypt’s pagan gods.
White Monastery is situated on rocky ground above the old Nile flood level, 12km north- west of Sohag, this monastery was founded by St Shenouda around AD 400 and dedicated to his mentor, St Bigol.
White limestone from Pharaonic temples was reused, and ancient gods and hieroglyphs still look out from some of the blocks. It once supported a huge community of monks and boasted the largest library in Egypt, but today the manuscripts are scattered around the world and the monastery is home to 23 monks.
The fortress walls still stand though they failed to protect the interior, most of which is in ruins. Nevertheless, it is easy to make out the plan of the church inside the enclosure walls. Made of brick and measuring 75m by 35m, it follows a basilica plan, with a nave, two side aisles and a triple apse. The nave and apses are intact, the domes decorated with the Dormition of the Virgin and Christ Pantocrator.
Nineteen columns, taken from an earlier structure, separate the side chap- els from the nave. Visitors wanting to assist in services may arrive from 4am.