Tigray Rock Churches

Tour Highlights

Tigray, Ethiopia’s northern most region, has more than 120 rock-hewn churches. It was in 1966 that a religious father named Abba Josief who astonished many people by reading out the list of the churches. Before then, however, only two or three churches were known to scholars. The rock churches are found in Gheralta, Tsaeda Imba, Atsbidera, Haramat, Ganta afeshum and in many other places scattered unevenly over an area of 180 x 140 Kms.

Gheralta, northwest of Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, is the home of a quarter of the rock churches, some famous for their stone workmanship, ancient paintings and old manuscripts, and others known for their magnificent view and difficult ascent. Such great churches as Abune Yemata (Guh), Mariam Korkor, Debretsion (Abune Abraham), Yohhanes Maequddi, Abune Gebre Mikael and Selassie Degum are in the very heart of Gheralta, making it the home of rock churches

Some four hours drive from Axum-plus a further two hours, stiff uphill walk from the road ends - lies the monastery of Debre Damo, situated on a cliff top in one of the wildest part of Tigray. Debere Damo is unique and unforgettable. The bluff on which Damo stands is a real-life Shangri-la. Remote and beautiful, far from the hustle and bustle of the 21st century, the cool celestial island of rock offers panoramic views over the surrounding countryside and complete seclusion and peace for the hundred or so monks and deacons who live there.

The monastery’s treasures include an extensive collection of illuminated manuscripts and the intricate carving on the beams and ceiling of the ancient church around which the monastery is built. The scenery of Gheralta is spectacular. The view of the graceful mount Gheralta and the far-reaching Hawzien plain is a rare combination of extraordinary beauty. George Gerster, the Swiss photographer, in his book churches in Rock writes, ‘Gheralta with its ‘western film’ scenery of mountains seems to be a kind of Ethiopian Arizona.

Tigray Churches Tours of the Tigray rock- churches can be given either in combination with the Historic route or separately with exclusive request of travelers. It is also possible to combine the Danakil Depression, Ertale and the Tigray rock-churches as an adventure and off- the beaten truck package

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Tigray, Ethiopia’s northern most region, has more than 120 rock-hewn churches. It was in 1966 that a religious father named Abba Josief who astonished many people by reading out the list of the churches. Before then, however, only two or three churches were known to scholars. The rock churches are found in Gheralta, Tsaeda Imba, Atsbidera, Haramat, Ganta afeshum and in many other places scattered unevenly over an area of 180 x 140 Kms.

Gheralta, northwest of Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, is the home of a quarter of the rock churches, some famous for their stone workmanship, ancient paintings and old manuscripts, and others known for their magnificent view and difficult ascent. Such great churches as Abune Yemata (Guh), Mariam Korkor, Debretsion (Abune Abraham), Yohhanes Maequddi, Abune Gebre Mikael and Selassie Degum are in the very heart of Gheralta, making it the home of rock churches

Some four hours drive from Axum-plus a further two hours, stiff uphill walk from the road ends - lies the monastery of Debre Damo, situated on a cliff top in one of the wildest part of Tigray. Debere Damo is unique and unforgettable. The bluff on which Damo stands is a real-life Shangri-la. Remote and beautiful, far from the hustle and bustle of the 21st century, the cool celestial island of rock offers panoramic views over the surrounding countryside and complete seclusion and peace for the hundred or so monks and deacons who live there.

The monastery’s treasures include an extensive collection of illuminated manuscripts and the intricate carving on the beams and ceiling of the ancient church around which the monastery is built. The scenery of Gheralta is spectacular. The view of the graceful mount Gheralta and the far-reaching Hawzien plain is a rare combination of extraordinary beauty. George Gerster, the Swiss photographer, in his book churches in Rock writes, ‘Gheralta with its ‘western film’ scenery of mountains seems to be a kind of Ethiopian Arizona.

Tigray Churches Tours of the Tigray rock- churches can be given either in combination with the Historic route or separately with exclusive request of travelers. It is also possible to combine the Danakil Depression, Ertale and the Tigray rock-churches as an adventure and off- the beaten truck package