It is strongly built, but in need of good care

SINAI – No Greek Orthodox author has written anything like Umberto Eco’s novel «The Name of the Rose» about the majestic monastery of Sinai. Presumably misty European landscapes are worlds apart from the relentless sun and transparent air of the Sinai Desert. From any of the surrounding elevations, the Monastery of Saint Catherine looks beautiful situated in the wadi, at an altitude of 1,500 meters, and encircled by the bare granite peaks of Sinai (or Moses’s mountain, as the Arabs call it). But the labyrinth encompassed by its walls is not readily visible to the eye of the tourist. It takes some time and the assistance of an insider to get some sense of the grandeur, extent and complexity of the spaces and also of their problems, which are equally complex. Such an opportunity arose last week when the monastery unveiled the medieval refectory that has been restored at the initiative of the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage. The money for the restoration came from the proceeds of the sale in America of the film «Where God Walked on Earth,» made by Lydia Carras, who is a member of the society and the wife of its president Costas Carras. Leading academics and other personalities from Greece and abroad were among the Hellenic Society’s large and festive group that traveled to Sinai for the event.

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