Churches around Wikiro

Debre Damo Monastery

Is one of the highlights of the north lying some 86kms north east of Axum. It is notable for its 6th C Axumite stone church and its impregnable cliff position. The monastery lies on a 3000m high amba. It is a mystery how the founder of the monastery Abba Aregawi (one of the nine saints) reached the top and how the monks carried up the stones with which the church was built.

Churches around Wikiro

Teka Tesfai cluster:

Lie close to the town of Wikiro along the main road between Wukro and Sinkata and are easily accessible and to this group belongs Adi Kesho Medahane Alem, Wukro Cherkos ( situated just outside the town is three quarter sandstone monolith ,very unusual and interesting architecture ) and Petros We paulos.

Adi Kesho Medahane Alem

Tigray churches

It is the finest of this cluster. According to Ruth Plant “it is ne of the truly great churches of Tigray ‘It is most impressive for its size and complex architecture. It is probably the oldest rock hewn church in Tigray. Petros & paulos is not truly rock hewn church as it the sanctuary lies within the rock. It has old paintings of angles and saints.

Abreha we Atsbeha lies half way along the road between Dugem and Wikiro. It is regarded to be one of the finest churches in Tigray. It is large cruciform church with interesting architectural features such as cruciform pillars and step capitals plus well preserved 17th & 18th C murals.

Negash Mosque:

Situated 10kms north of Wikiro was the first site of Muslim settlement in Ethiopia. Fleeing persecution by the ruling quresh people in Saudi Arabia in the Muslim prophet’s life time, a community of Muslims took refugee here in Negash. The current mosque is said to lie on the site of the 7th C original. Negash attracts Muslim pilgrims from all parts of the country and there is a yearly important Negash festival.

Churches around Atsbi.

This town lies along the ancient salt caravans and modern road between Wikiro and the Danakil Desert. Atsbi clusters include the rock hewn churches of Michael Barka, Michael Imba, and Debre Selam or Tembien.

Michael Barka

Is a small church shaped like a cross and lies 17kms from Wikiro. It is decorated with numerous murals on the domed roof

Michael Imba

This church, which is thought to date back to the 10th century, has exquisitely carved original wooden doors and a geometrically patterned ceiling hewn from the stone. Constructed on top of an amba (flat topped mountain) it can only be reached by ladders and is surrounded by pools said to contain holy water. Built in a cruciform Shape, it bears more than a passing resemblance to some of the Lalibela churches, leading several historians to speculate on a probable link between the two church building communities.

Debre Selam

Tigray churches

Is described by Ivy Pearce as “an extraordinary …. Church with in a church” It consists of a built up cave church protected with in a relatively modern white washed portico. It has lovely setting and good views from top.

Hawzien & Gheralta

Lies to the south of Hawzien. Gheralta is the home of a quarter of the rock churches, some famous for their stone workmanship, ancient paintings and manuscripts, and others known for their magnificent view and difficult ascent. Such great churches as Abuna Yemata, Mariam Korkor, Debresion, Yohannes Maequddi, Abraha Atseha, Abune Gebre Michael, and Silasse Degum are in the very heart of this cliff. This group includes some of the most stunningly situated churches anywhere in Ethiopia. This cluster of churches can be explored best from Hawzien using a private vehicle and a few days walk and hiking to reach some inaccessible churches.

Abuna Yemata Guh

is one of the most impressive churches known for its 15th C beautiful frescoes and stunning views from the top.

Maryam Korkor

large impressive church known for its rich decoration, carvings, architectural features and fine 13th C paintings.

Dugum Silassie

Tiny older church lies with in the newer ones. It has beautifully carved ceiling above the maqidas.

Tembien

Is the site of about twenty rock- hewn churches. Gabriel Wukien, Abba Yohanni, Amanuel Mai-Baha, Mariam Hibito, Abba Selama and Mariam Itsewto are some of the church concentrated around Tembien. It is also known for its great war-winning heroes like Emperor Yohannes IV and Ras Allula Abba Nega. It has also unique and fascinating dance known as ‘Awris’.

Adigrat

is the second largest town in Tigray after Mekele. It stands at a pivotal junction of the road to Axum, Mekele and Asmara. It has strong historical and cultural links with Eritrea. Adigrat serves us a good base to explore some of the rock hewn churches of Tigray. It is closer to most of these churches than is Mekele.