Red Monastery

The Red Monastery is a Coptic Orthodox monastery named after an Egyptian saint called Pishay (who is not to be confused with the famous Saint Pishoy). It is located near the Upper Egyptian city of Souhag, and about four Km north west of the White Monastery. The name of the monastery is derived from the color of the construction material of its outside walls, consisting of red (burnt) brick. These walls are considerably thicker at the base than at the top, and just like the walls of Ancient Egyptian temples, they are surmounted by cavetto moldings. The Red Monastery is architecturally similar to the White Monastery.

We know almost nothing of the history of the Red Monastery (Deir al-Ahmar, Deir Anba Bishoi or Bishai) near Sohag, though it is one of the most famous Christian monasteries in Egypt. It lies about three kilometers north of the White Monastery at the extreme western edge of the cultivated land. However, unlike the White Monastery it is situated within a small village, and some houses lie to the south and east. The area to the north and west of the monastery is mainly covered with debris.

In this church, late antique paintings cover about eighty percent of the walls, niches, columns, pilasters, pediments and apses. The building’s elaborate figural and ornamental paintings, combined with extensive sculpture and monumental architecture, make it the most important historical church in Egypt.