Nitria (monastic site)
Nitria is one of the earliest Christian monastic sites in Egypt. It was the earliest of the three major centers of Christian monastic activity in the Nitrian Desert, the other two were Kellia and Scetis.
Nitria was founded in AD 330 by Ammon and quickly attracted thousands of monks through the remainder of the 4th century. By 390, it evolved from a loose collection of solitary monks to an organized community with bankers, merchants and church services. Tourists from the nearby city of Alexandria came as well, even in large numbers, and many of the monks focused on servicing the tourists needs. Other monks sought more remote areas, away from the tourists and merchants, and established a monastic center in Kellia twelve miles distant, in 338. The monastic population in Nitria declined during the fifth and sixth centuries and the site was abandoned sometime in the middle of the seventh century.
Little remains today at its location near or under the modern village of Al Barnuji. Nitria should not be confused with the monasteries at Wadi El Natrun (formally known as Scetis), which are still in existence. Nitria was named for a nearby town which took its name from the deposits of nearby natron, a salt used by the Ancient Egyptians in the embalming of mummies.
- Roger S. Bagnall, etc. Egypt from Alexander to the early Christians: An Archaeological and Historical Guide, Getty Publications, 2004. pg. 108-112
- Map of Al Barnuji, via Google Maps. Note the natron lake one kilometer to the south.
- Nitria and Kellia, maps and information.