One of the most spectacular regions in Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula encompasses the country’s territory on the Asian continent, bridging it with Africa. Well-known and widely-visited due to its immense natural beauty (the region is particularly popular for its diving), Sinai is also deeply steeped in rich history, serving as an important locale in the Abrahamic religions. It is not difficult to see why the region is so popular amongst visitors.
While not entirely verified, many believe Mount Sinai to be the biblical location of the site of the same name. An important place in all Abrahamic texts, Mount Sinai is most significant as the location where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. The site reappears frequently in the Bible, the Torah and the Quran. At the foot of the mountain is Saint Catherine’s Monastery, one of the oldest functioning churches in history and home to the oldest continually operating library, having been built in the mid 6th Century. Due to the religious significance and the beautiful surrounding landscape, Mount Sinai is an essential destination in the eponymous region.
The Sinai Peninsula is particularly well-known for its top quality diving, and the SS Thistlegorm is undoubtedly one of the major diving hotspots in the region. A wreck site, the SS Thistelgorm was a British Navy vessel dating back to the Second World War, sunk in 1941. Discovered by iconic French explorer Jacques Cousteau in the 1950’s, the wreck has since achieved an iconic status, regularly ranked amongst the best wreck diving sites in the world. In addition to the fascinating wreck, the site is also interesting due to the diverse fauna surrounding it such as sea turtles and barracudas.
Ras Mohamed National Park
One of the most spectacular sights in the region, Ras Mohamed National Park is located on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula and known for its network of underwater caves and diverse underwater wildlife, which makes it a highly popular snorkelling destination. Its inland area, while less of a tourist draw, is also spectacular. It is known for its plethora of sand dunes and mountains.
One of the region’s best-known diving sites, the Blue Hole is the most infamous destination in the Sinai Peninsula. It is widely considered to be the most dangerous diving site in the world, having claimed hundreds of lives over the last few years. It is known for its deceptive ‘Arch’, which is often the main reason behind the many tragic deaths. While it is not the most inviting site and should not be approached by amateurs under any circumstances, the Blue Hole is regardless a major point of interest within the Sinai Peninsula.
Despite being a new site, built recently in 2010. The Heavenly Cathedral is a fine example of Coptic architecture, known for its illustrious design. The cathedral is particularly well-known for its detailed interior, which features elaborately painted murals, which recount the most famous stories from the Bible, most notably St. John’s vision of the Apocalypse.
main image: courtesy of Derek Winterburn, Flickr Creative Commons