The magnificent rock hewn churches of Tigrai, most of them curved into relatively inaccessible cliff faces, obscure as the churches carved into the sandstone cliffs of Tigrai. Practically unknown to other Ethiopians, along the outside world, before 1966, these rock edifices have been described by the British academic Ivy Pearce as “the greatest of the historical – cultural heritages of the Ethiopian people”. Most of these architectural gems remain in active use today, several house paintings and other sacred medieval artifacts, and even one of them is imbued with an aura of spirituality that seeps from the very rock in to which they are curved.

The rock hewn churches of Tigrai were generally excavated using a very different method to that favored at Lalibela. The most impressive churches in and around Lalibela were generally created in two phases, first of all a moat like subterranean trench would be excavated deep into a horizontal rock, then the church itself would be chiseled into the monolithic block of rock created at the center of the trench. However, more characteristic of the Tigrain rock churches are curved into vertical cliff face or from the outcrop, the former sometimes expands onto ledge, where a false entrance has been added.

The rock churches of Tigrai are dated back to the rule of Abreha and Atsebeha (Ezana and Saizana), the twin emperors of Axum, who introduced Christianity to Ethiopia in the 4th century AD up to the 15th century. Many of the rock hewn churches of Tigrai is lie along the main road between Mekelle and Adigrat the junction town to Adwa and Axum, and they are grouped under four major cluster, and some are accessible can be reached easily from the main asphalt road and the others situated off road from the main road and needs hours driving and mountain climbing over rough roads.

  1. Gheralta cluster
  2. Atsbi Wonberta cluster
  3. Wukro cluster
  4. Tsaeda Imba [TEKA TESFAI cluster]
  5. Monastery of Debre Damo
  6. Monastery of Gunda Gundo
Gheralta Cluster

Gheralta Cluster

The Wukro Degum road leads west to Gheralta, its rock crowned peak, together with far reaching plains, enclosed by a chain of mountains, casts a panoramic view. George Gerster, the Swiss photographer, writes in his book, Churches in Rock,...

read more
Atsbi Wonberta Cluster

Atsbi Wonberta Cluster

Atsbi Wonberta is located east of Wukro and bears the churches of Mikael Barka, Debreselam Mikael and Mikael Imba. These splendidly executed edifices are found perched on a mountain commanding a view of their surroundings. Mikael Barka Mikael...

read more
Wukro Cluster

Wukro Cluster

The only sizable town between Adigrat and Mekelle, with its relaxed if rather nondescript character and forms a convenient base from which to explore the under list as well as other a number of rock hewn churches. There are major rock hewn...

read more
Tsaeda Imba or Teka Tesfai Cluster

Tsaeda Imba or Teka Tesfai Cluster

Along the Mekelle – Adigrat road, 25km after Wukro, an escarpment better known as Tsada Imba, meaning White Mountain, accompanies the road along the route to Sinkata. The rocky but scenic area is the home of one of the highly sacred places in...

read more
Monastery of Debre Damo

Monastery of Debre Damo

The monastery of Debre Damo is notable for its 6th century Axumite stone church, as well as for its impregnable cliff top position. This isolated relic lay on a 2800m high amba (flat topped hill) covering an area of 0.5m2 and sheer cliffs. The...

read more
Monastery of Gunda Gundo

Monastery of Gunda Gundo

Gunda Gundo is accessed from the town of Edagahamus, 100km after Mekelle. It has an area that lay between a sheer side cliff in the west and an escarpment that drops towards the Afar depression. From this settlement, a 24km rough road leads to...

read more

Other Historical Attraction

Gheralta Cluster

The Wukro Degum road leads west to Gheralta, its rock crowned peak, together with far reaching plains, enclosed by a chain of mountains, casts a panoramic view. George Gerster, the Swiss photographer, writes in his book, Churches in Rock,...

read more

Atsbi Wonberta Cluster

Atsbi Wonberta is located east of Wukro and bears the churches of Mikael Barka, Debreselam Mikael and Mikael Imba. These splendidly executed edifices are found perched on a mountain commanding a view of their surroundings. Mikael Barka Mikael...

read more

Wukro Cluster

The only sizable town between Adigrat and Mekelle, with its relaxed if rather nondescript character and forms a convenient base from which to explore the under list as well as other a number of rock hewn churches. There are major rock hewn...

read more

Tsaeda Imba or Teka Tesfai Cluster

Along the Mekelle – Adigrat road, 25km after Wukro, an escarpment better known as Tsada Imba, meaning White Mountain, accompanies the road along the route to Sinkata. The rocky but scenic area is the home of one of the highly sacred places in...

read more

Monastery of Debre Damo

The monastery of Debre Damo is notable for its 6th century Axumite stone church, as well as for its impregnable cliff top position. This isolated relic lay on a 2800m high amba (flat topped hill) covering an area of 0.5m2 and sheer cliffs. The...

read more

Monastery of Gunda Gundo

Gunda Gundo is accessed from the town of Edagahamus, 100km after Mekelle. It has an area that lay between a sheer side cliff in the west and an escarpment that drops towards the Afar depression. From this settlement, a 24km rough road leads to...

read more

Addis Abeba

With the population of more than four million people, Addis Ababa is not only the political capital but also the economic and social nerve center of Ethiopia and also the seat of the Africa Union (AU), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), major Regional headquarters, more than 90 embassies and consulates.

read more

Historic Route of Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s historic route does not end at Addis Ababa, it continue some  535 km to the east of the capital, perched at the end of a spur projecting from the central plateau, to the old romantic walled city of Harar stands amid green mountains on the eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley near the Somalian border, the historical city dating back to medieval time.

read more