St Catherine's Monastery and Mt Sinai are sacred to three major world religions; Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Until about the 11th century hundreds of pilgrims made an 8 day journey annually to the Monastery. The local Muslims still use the monastery’s mosque for ceremonies.
St Catherine's Monastery is a great example of an early Christian monastic settlement. Severe monasticism prevailed in the early Christian Church, which meant that many monastic communities were established in remote areas. St Catherine's Monastery is one of the earliest of these and the oldest to have survived intact, being functional without interruption since the 6th century.
Another reason that makes St Catherine's significant is that its architecture and artistic treasures are outstanding examples of human creativity in the early centuries. Many buildings built around 1500 are now in ruins, but the buildings at St Catherine's are still intact and functional, which is a
credit to the people who built them. Most of the buildings have had minimal restoration done on them and it shows us how well things could be built 1,400 years ago. There are few, if any, people left in the world that could make chalices and reliquaries to the standard of the ones that are in St Catherine's collection of artifacts. One chalice was so special that the Louvre museum in Paris asked to borrow it for an exhibition. More on artifacts.
For these reasons UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 2002.