Tigrai Rock Hewn Churches
Tigrai region as whole is known as the open air museum. There are many rock hewn and some built up churches found at the cliff top and classified in 4 clusters according to their location.
Abreha wo atsebeha
According tomany experts to be the finest rock hewn church in the region. It is semi monolithic and the interior burnt by Yodit Gudit. The interior is very large .16m wide, 13m deep and 6m high. Its shape is cruciform. The beautifully carved roof is supported by 13 pillars and several decorated arches. There are three sanctuaries for the tabot of Gebriel, Mariam and Mickael. This church is built in the 4th century by the two brother kings Abreha we Astebha. The well preserved and well done executed murals are relatively recent.
Is one of the early rock hewn churches built in the 4th century by the two brother kings Abreha we Astebha. It is semi monolithic church still the holy of holies is attached to the main rock. It was burnt two times in its history by Ahmed Gragn and Yodit Gudit.it is still active church not far from the main Mekele –Axum road.
The most accessible church from this cluster is Mikael Barka found between Atsbi and Wukro. Founded in the 9th century, Mikael barka is a cavernously gloomy but very atmospheric rock hewn church.it is excavated in cruciform shape and decorated with many murals on the domed roof. A large etched cross on one of the 12 columns.
Mikael imba, Mikael debre selam are some churches from this cluster.
Abune yemata guh
The most inaccessible (only hand grips and footholds)and less visited but very impressive 6th century church, with depicting of the 9 saints and 12 apostles on the ceiling. Its façade is curved out massive rock. There are stunning views from narrow edge that leads to the church.
This church is found at the flat top not far from Guh. The built up façade is off-cutting but the interior is very atmospheric and large. The architectural features include 12 cruciform pillars with bracket capitals. The fine art work on the walls and columns is believed by the locals dated from the 13th c.
Yohanes mekodi, Daniel korkor hawzien tekle haymanot are some churches from this cluster.
Teka Tesfai cluster
The most gorgeous church for its size and complex architecture, the magnificent exterior is cut free from the rock behind, with four columns in front and two large doors covered by recent attractive paintings.
The interior has a cathedral like atmosphere and the magnificent roof is dense with etchings.
According to David Buxton, this church is quite possibly the oldest rock hewn church in Tigrai or anywhere in Ethiopia.
Petros we Paulos and Mikael Melehayzenghi churches are quite churches from this cluster.
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