2 Days Exploring the Ancient Churches of Tigray, Ethiopia

Day 1

     

        Drive from Axum to Hauzien , via Adwa and Adigrat .

        For Ethiopians, the town of Adwa holds huge significance: It was in the hills
surrounding Adwa that the Emperor Menelik II inflicted the biggest ever defeat
on a colonial army in Africa and saved Ethiopia from colonisation. We’ll take in
some impressive religious artefacts at the monastery of Abba Garima and we’ll
use the town as the base from which to visit Yeha or Debra Damo .

        Yeha is famous for its huge and remarkable temple. According to the 19th century
German scholar Heinrich Miiller, the temple is thought to date back to about
seven or eight hundred years before the birth of Christ and is believed to be the
oldest standing building in the country. Beside the remarkable temple stands a
church dedicated to Abba Aftse who was one of the famous nine saints who came
to Ethiopia in the 6th century.

         Debre Damo monastery is only accessible by rope-climb and, unfortunately,
women are not permitted to enter. It’s a tough ascent but well worth it.

         We’ll take lunch in a local restaurant in Adigrat, then continue our drive to
Hauzien via Sinkata . Adigrat is a quietly attractive village of stone houses with
sandstone cliffs to the east offering stunning views of the Gheralta Plains .

        Overnight at Adulis Hotel , Hauzien.

 

Day 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

In one day you will visit three churches:

Abuna Yemata Guh ; Maryam Korkor and Daniel Korkor . All of which are very different in style but stunningly beautiful in their own ways.

          First, we’ll walk the steep ascent up the side of the Gheralta massif to visit Abuna Yemata Guh , walking for about an hour and finally using foot and hand-holds that have been chipped into the sandstone rock by the passage of many hands and feet. The climb, and the walk along very narrow ledges with sheer drops to the side, is not one for the faint hearted!

       Of the three, Maryam Korkor is the most impressive architecturally. A huge, high ceiling is supported by 12 free standing pillars. Looking at it, you’ll find yourself wondering how the architect managed to carve so high from the ground.

           Finally we drive back to Mek’ele where we may stay overnight at a local hotel.

Summary

          A ‘must-see’ for any visit to Ethiopia, the rock-hewn churches of Northern Tigray
are a marvel to behold. We’re sure this tour will be one of the highlights of your
Ethiopian adventure.

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