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Wadi El Natrun
Monastery of the Syriacs in Wadi el Natrun
Wadi El Natrun is located in Egypt
Wadi El Natrun
Location in Egypt
Coordinates: Template:StateAbbr2 30°35′N 30°20′E / 30.583°N 30.333°E / 30.583; 30.333
Country Template:Flag
Governorate Beheira Governorate
Time zone EST (UTC+2)
 - Summer (DST) +3 (UTC)

Wadi El Natrun (Arabic for "Natron Valley"; Coptic: Ϣⲓϩⲏⲧ Shee-Hyt; Greek: Scetis or Scetes) is a valley located in Beheira Governorate, Egypt, including a town with the same name. The name refers to the presence of eight different lakes in the region that produce natron salt. The modern chemical symbol for sodium, Na, is an abbreviation of that element's Latin name natrium, which was derived from natron. In Coptic, the region was known as Shee-Hyt, meaning the balance of the hearts or the measure of the hearts. In Greek, it is known as Scetes, which means the ascetics. In Christian literature, the region is also referred to as the Nitrian Desert. In ancient times, natron was mined here for use in Egyptian burial rites. It is believed that the Holy family visited Wadi El Natrun during their flight into Egypt.


The alkali lakes of the Natron Valley provided the Ancient Egyptians with the sodium bicarbonate used in mummification.

The region of Wadi El Natrun was and remains one of the most sacred regions in Christianity. Between the 4th century, when Saint Macarius of Egypt retired to the desert,[1] and the 7th century A.D., the region attracted hundreds of thousands of people from the world over to join the hundreds of monasteries of the Nitrian Desert. The desolate region became a sanctuary for the desert fathers and for cenobitic monastic communities. Many anchorites, hermits and monks lived in the desert and the hills around the region. The solitude of the Nitrian Desert attracted these people because they saw in the privations of the desert a means of learning stoic self-discipline (asceticism). Thus, these individuals believed that desert life would teach them to eschew the things of this world and allow them to follow God's call in a more deliberate and individual way.

Saints of the region

Some of the most renowned saints of the region include the various Desert Fathers, as well as Saint Amun, Saint Arsenius, Saint John the Dwarf, Saint Macarius of Egypt, Saint Macarius of Alexandria, Saint Moses the Black, Saint Pishoy, Sts. Maximos and Domatios, Saint Poimen The Great and Saint Samuel the Confessor.


A fresco from the Syrian Wadi Natrun monastery


Currently, Wadi El Natrun is gaining popularity among Egyptians as a place of agricultural land reclamation. Farming based on water from wells is expanding in Wadi El Natrun.

See also


  1. "The first monk to settle in Wadi Natrun was Macarius the Egyptian, whose retirement to the desert took place in 330 A.D.." (Hugh G. Evelyn-White, "The Egyptian Expedition 1916-1919: IV. The Monasteries of the Wadi Natrun" The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 15.7, Part 2: The Egyptian Expedition 1916-1919 [July 1920):34-39] p 34; Evelyn White's article gives a brief overview of Wadi Natrun from literary sources.

External links

Coordinates: 30°25′N 30°20′E / 30.417°N 30.333°E / 30.417; 30.333

ar:وادي النطرون arz:وادى النطرون cs:Vádí Natrun ru:Вади-Натрун tr:Vadi Natrun