The Monastery of the Virgin in Mount Assiut is one of the important tourist attractions in the Egyptian country. Thousands of foreign and Egyptian visitors visit it throughout the year to learn where the Holy Family’s journey ended, and the return journey began. The Virgin was manifested in a luminous form and still appears from time to time in this holy monastery, where people find calm, comfort, peace and joy.
Location of Dayr Durunka
Virgin Mary Monastery in Doronka (also pronounced as ‘Dayr Durunkah’ or ‘Deir Dronka’) is located 100 meters high on Western Assiut Mountain and 10 km from the city of Assiut. Dayr Durunkah is approximately 50 km south of Dayr Al- Muharraq.
According to traditions, the Holy Family started their journey back to Palestine from an ancient date to 2500 BC. Historians believe it was the last destination visited by the Holy Family on their journey through Egypt. The monastery was built around the cave in which they stayed. The cave chapel of the Virgin Mary dates to the first century within the sanctuary. Many Christians every year visit the monastery to Enjoy a great stature. It is known that this monastery is better equipped than any other place on the route of the Holy family to receive large numbers of pilgrims, especially during the festival of the Holy Virgin in August.
Dayr Durunkah is worth the visit for its beauty alone. The monastery has been completely renovated since 1955. Today it consists of many churches. The Monastery of Durunkah is better equipped than many of the other places on the route of the Holy Family to receive large numbers of pilgrims and visitors. For this purpose, several hundred houses have been built against the mountain’s slopes– about one hundred meters above the agricultural land. From there, one has a splendid view of the Nile Valley.
The coming of the Holy Family to Assiut
Christ, glory is to Him, came to Egypt when he was a small child with his mother, the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph the Carpenter. If the Holy Family left Palestine, its homeland, and headed towards the Egyptian country, it crossed the Sinai desert. Then, it reached the eastern delta, passing through some countries of Lower Egypt. Further, the holy family arrived in Cairo. Furthermore, from there, it followed to Upper Egypt until the city of Assiut, then to its western mountain, where the well-known cave in which the Holy Family settled.
In August, the Holy Family came to Mount Assiut when fasting on the Virgin’s coming with the child Jesus. Later, the Virgin Monastery stood next to it, which lies above the chest of this mountain overlooking the green valley extending eastward to the course of the Nile River. That is why the monastery holds its religious ceremonies annually. These ceremonies start from the 7th of August till the 21st of August every year.
In the convent, visitors will see a large cave. The cave, probably once a pharaonic quarry, attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims yearly, especially during the festival of the Holy Virgin in August. Many pilgrims come after the recurrent apparitions of the Holy Virgin in the past decades. According to tradition, the Holy Family stayed before taking a boat northward to return to the Holy Land.
Dayr Durunkah dates back to the end of the first Christian century. The monastery has a group of churches, the oldest of which is the Cave Church. It is worth mentioning that this monastery cave dates back to about two thousand five hundred years ago. Its facade is 160 meters long and 60 meters deep. Furthermore, the monastery has many buildings that reach five floors. It has large halls for religious and social services, artistic activities, and rooms for hospitality and accommodation.
The monastery has a religious message. Since the dawn of Christianity, Christians have continued to inherit residence in it. Many monasteries sprang into this area when the monastic movement began in the fourth Christian century. St. John Al-Assiouti was one of the most famous monks who lived in the monastery. The monastery holds prayers and the sacrament of baptism daily. It welcomes visitors from six in the morning and closes its doors at six. Still, the date extends to eleven in the evening during August. As for the overnight stay in the monastery, it is according to a previous permit.
How to Get to Durunka Monastery?
From Asyut, the historical town of Lycopolis, drive 10 km to Durunka village. And then head towards the ascending road to the mountain for a distance of one kilometre. At the end of this road, visitors will find that they are in front of the monastery’s gates. The Virgin’s Monastery lies in the western mountain of Assiut, at the height of one hundred meters from the surface of the agricultural land. It is ten kilometres away from the city, which the car travels in a quarter of an hour. The visitor can also reach the monastery by the ring road, which starts at kilometre 3 three before entering the city of Assiut from the north side and at kilometre 4 four from the south side.