Wadi el-Natrun is a desert depression (about 23 meters below sea level) which occupies an area of about 60 km northwest of the Egyptian capital. Wadi el Natrun means "valley of nitrates' ', a name due to the presence of eight lakes containing this chemical substance. In Coptic, the region is also known as Shi-Hyt, which can be translated as "scales of the heart" or "measure of hearts' '.
The region of Wadi el-Natrun was and remains one of the regions of reference for the Christian religion, whose first settlements date back to the 3rd century AD. C. Over the centuries the area came to count hundreds of monasteries, whose inhabitants were mostly monks and hermits. The site enjoyed this importance until the seventh century, a period in which the monasteries began to suffer looting and looting by nomads who came from the Libyan desert, and later by the Arabs after the Muslim conquest of 641.
The legacy of the Christian period has left four Coptic Orthodox monasteries, the monastery of St. Macarius, of the Syrians, St. Bishoy and the monastery of the Romans.
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