Pictures: (in order) Depictions of: St Helena; Justinian I; Mohammed
The fortified walls were built around the chapel by the Byzantine emperor and church-builder Justinian, starting in 527. The Church of the Transfiguration was completed by Justinian’s workers in the 560’s, about the time of his death
The Monastery’s original name is the Monastery of the Transfiguration. It became known as St Catherine's Monastery after her head and hand were brought there for safekeeping in the 10th century.
Because Mount Sinai is revered by Muslims as the place where god handed down his Law, in 623 a document was signed by Prophet Mohammad which exempted the Christian monks of St Catherine’s from the usual taxes and military service and commanded that the Muslims provide help to the community.
In recognition of this, the monks allowed the conversion of a small Crusader church in the monastery to a mosque between 1101 and 1106. It is still used by local Muslims on special occasions.
In the early 20th century many of the buildings had restoration work done on them.