Minnesota in Egypt

Detail of scene derived in 2002 from the Quickbird satellite platform as manipulated by Todd Brenningmeyer. The monastery church is the rectangle slightly to the left and down from the center of this detail. The present day enclosure wall can be clearly seen.

The Red Monastery

formally entitled

The Monastery of St. Bishoi
in the Nile Valley near Sohag.
Its popular name arises from the use of red brick in the church, which distinguishes it from the White Monastery church.

For dating , scroll down

back to site map,

forward for north door or rmodern entry

or interior, and interior details

As at the White Monastery, the principal visible remains are now those of the church. It has been greatly altered, but large parts of the original east end remain.

Monastery church from the northwest: preliminary excavations of monastic buildings in the foreground (Dec. 2002)

"Shenute has, of course, made the White Monastery much more famous.  From an architectural point of view, it is more interesting as well.  But given the fact that most of the stonework in the White Monastery was shaved down and the surface of much of it was lost, along with all traces of paint, the Red Monastery is actually much more significant for art history today.  It may include the only standing ensemble of architecture, sculpture, and paint (areas fully covered with paint) left from the late antique period in the entire Mediterranean.  Some of the paint is certainly post-fifth century, but a lot of it may well be early. "
Elizabeth Bolman, emphasis added. See her photographs on interior, and interior details.


Cavetto molding at top of wall. Similar to those on Pharaonic temples, and at the top of the wall of the White Monastery Church.

The Red Monastery was built after the White Monastery. It lacks the documentation that Shenute's fame brought to the latter.

Recently Török has argued for a date close to that of the White Monastery, while Severin argues for a later, sixth century date Severin 2008).

Like the White Monastery's church, this one was a basilica with a trefoil arrangement of apses at the east. Decorative details also resemble those of the White Monastery (see interior, and interior details).

The major study was done by Monneret de Villard 1925-1926. See also Dayr Anba Bishoi 1991; Grossmann 2001, 536-539.

Recent work on the painting and sculpture of the interior is cited on "interior" (primarily painting) and "interior details" (primarily architectural sculpture, unfinished). Another page on painting will follow).