Archaeologist Dr. Abdel Rahim Rihan, Director General of Research and Archaeological Studies and Scientific Publishing in Sinai, said that Sinai has many tourist attractions for religious tourism. It is the site where the Israelites rested in front of the Valley of Hebron, waiting for Prophet Moses for 40 days. The port city of al-Tur was the meeting place of Christian and Muslim pilgrims and merchants during the Mamluk era, and members of the two faith lived together in the now ruined area known as al-Kilani. It was the city where the first Christians had sought refuge since the fourth century AD, and where Sinai monasticism developed. Nabataean, Byzantine and Muslim inscriptions can be found in abundance at places nearby, as well as the Bath of Moses (Hamam Musa), a spring with sulfur water, in the city.
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Dr. Rayhan told Al-Bawaba News that Al-Tur was known by the name of Raitho until the fifteenth century AD and has several Christian monuments, including the ancient Monastery of Raitho known today as the Monastery of St. George, built by the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century AD. It is the only monastery in Sinai that retains all its architectural elements from the 6th century AD until now. The more famous monastery of St. Catherine had additions to its structure and layout by several renovations. Christian holy men came to Sinai from all parts of the world and they were safe and secure in the Islamic tolerance of Islamic governments.
Dr. Rayhan explains that at Jabal al-Na’am, 13 kms northwest of the city, there are many rock inscriptions carved by Christian and Arab traders of commercial caravans who stopped there to rest. They engraved their memories and names on various parts of this mountain. Arabic calligraphy, Quranic verses and Muslim prayers are found with Christian inscriptions on the same rock.
The houses of Christians in the al-Kilani area of al-Tur were adjacent to the houses of the Muslims. Al-Tur also includes the ancient port from the Mamluk era, which contributed to the East-West trade and the serviced the pilgrims. There were also four hospitals, wells and pilgrims’ homes. Dr. Rayhan added that the old Kilani Mosque was built by a Christian construction worker. He was born in 1840 and died in 1940. Al-Tur also houses unique buildings built entirely from coral reefs in 1826 which were used to accommodate the workers of the modern port and their families, which included Christians who were working with the Muslims. The Monastery of St. George includes a church built in 1875, and a garden of palm and fruit trees can be found next to the Bath of Moses 2 km north of the monastery.