Monastery of St. Simeon
Past the Mausoleum of Agha Khan on the west bank lies the ruined monastery of St. Simeon. It was founded in the seventh century, and dedicated to a fourth century monk, Anba Hadra.
Apparently, Simeon decided to become celibate -- the day after his wedding, which must have irked his wife to no end -- and eventually chose to become a desert hermit.
Saladin destroyed the building in 1173, but the features remaining look far more like a fortress than a monastery. The huge walls surrounding the building are stone a the base, mud brick at the top. ALong the walls there are a few collapsed towers. From its vantage point on the top of the hill, the monks here could see for miles in any direction, and any approach to attack the monastery would be uphill in soft sand.
THere is a small church inside, although the basilica is collapsed, the icons and paintings are still visible. THe walls are painted wit pictures of the apostles and angels, in bright colors and a distinctly Byzantine style. Many of the frescos were deliberately defaced by the Muslim invaders.
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