Friday, March 5, 2010

Blue Desert

About ten kilometers from the Monastery of St. Katherine is a unique place in Sinai the remarkable Blue Desert or Blue Valley.

You can reach it by car (a 4WD is not necessary) along the track, which starts near the tomb of Sheikh Nabi Sala (a Muslim saint whose true identity is not entirely clear), near the crossing between the road leading to the monastery and that which takes to the Wadi Feiran.

The Blue Desert owes its name to the numerous rocks scattered across an area of nearly 15 square kilometers- that the Belgian artist Jean Vera me painted blue in 1980. This was dome to commemorate the end of the conflict between Egypt and Israel. A good 10 tons of paint were needed to complete the work.

The asphalt road that goes down into the Wadi Feiran leads to the largest and most magnificent Wadi ("valley") in the Sinai Peninsula.

After a long stretch it opens out onto the coast of the Gulf of Suez. This was the ancient route covered by pilgrims on their way to Saint Katherine and which, according to tradition, had been covered by Mousa himself.

In the Wadi Feiran you can see the largest palm grove in the Sinai Peninsula. Besides, you can also visit a small nunnery and an archaeological site that is situated nearby. Excavations have revealed the ruins of several churches, which date back to the IV-VII centuries AD, and that demonstrate the importance of this place in ancient times.

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