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15-Year Restoration of Sohag's Iconic Byzantine White & Red Monasteries on the Cusp of Completion

The EGP 30 million restoration is long due.

Sohag's Iconic White & Red Monasteries on The Cusp of Restoring Their Former Glory

Twelve kilometers off Sohag's Western side lie two exemplary Byzantine churches, the Red and White Monasteries. Neglected for decades, restoration work on the site kicked off some 15 years ago, slowly bringing the intricate, vibrant structures back to life. On Saturday, Egypt's Antiquities Minister, Mostafa El Waiziri, alongside 40 ambassadors, visited the site to review ongoing restoration works which are nearing their conclusion, with a total cost amounting to EGP 30 million until now. 

The Red Monastery was founded in the 4th Century by an Egyptian Saint called Saint Bishay and was built using red grantine stone, hence its name. It consists of a large court yard and a chapel surrounded by a fortified wall that was built to protect the monastery from outside attackers and invaders. In 2012, it was added to the ISESCO heritage list (The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

The White Monastery, on the other hand, was built in the 5th Century by Saint Pigol, who constructed it out of limestone. It consists of a large rectangular court, a chapel and a large fortified wall that reaches a staggering 29 meters.

The restoration works completed thus far in the Red chapel comprises of intricate repainting of the stunning Coptic icons and symbols on the walls of the chapel and the court. The ram-shackled flooring, dilapidated wooden ceilings and the broken columns have also been worked on.

The completion of the restorations will add yet more wight to the fact that Sohag continues to emerge as one of Egypt's most archaeologically rich cities, with the latest discovery coming in the form of a remarkably intact tomb this month.

Main Image: Mo4Network

Other photos courtesy of Salma Khattab