The Red Monastery, 4km southeast of the White Monastery and hidden at the rear of a village, is one of the most remarkable Christian buildings in Egypt. Founded by Besa, a disciple of Shenouda who, according to legend, was a thief who converted to Christianity, it was dedicated to St Bishoi.
The older of the monastery’s two chapels, the Chapel of St Bishoi and St Bigol, dates from the 4th century AD and some 80% of its surfaces are still covered with painted plaster and frescoes. An extensive restoration by the American Research Center in Egypt and USAID has revealed them in full glory. The quality and extent of the surviving work has led this chapel to be likened to the Hagia Sophia in İstanbul and the church of Ravenna as one of the great surviving monuments of late antiquity. The chapel of the Virgin, across the open court, is a more modern and less interesting structure.