Hidden away in the mountains like ancient treasures, the churches in Gheralata are described as ‘’ the greatest of the historical-cultural heritage of the Ethiopian people’’. The Gheralta Mountains chain is found deep within the northern high plateau of the Tigray region.
The geography of the Gheralta range is one of the most striking landscapes in all of Ethiopia. It’s picturesque setting, dazzling heights, age-old rock painting churches from the middle ages make it one of the premium destinations to be explored.
According to local tradition the churches in the Gheralta Mountains were constructed in the 4th Century by the first Christian kings of Ethiopia, Abraha, and Atsbeha, although it is more likely that many are 6th Century constructions, from the time when monasticism was spreading throughout the region. Many of the hermitage caves were expanded to become the enormous edifices that can now be admired flickering in candlelight amid the murmurs of the cream-shawled faithful. The churches have been hewn directly out of the mountainsides by hand, only their slim rock pillars left in place to prevent collapse.
From the churches of Gheralta, Abune Yemata Guh, Maryam korkor, and Daniel korkor are fascinating and frequently visited ones. Abune Yemata guh is a very beautiful painted church carved into a tall perpendicular sandstone pinnacle and accessed by a cliff face. Though regular visitors clamber up with ease, travelers often climb this rock face wrapped in ropes and harnesses.
What to See?
Gheralta is an amazing place to see and access age-old monasteries which nestled over a sheer cliff. The churches are embellished with spellbound frescoes and mural painting which dates back to the 12 and 13th-century ad. The mountains here are an ideal place for trekking and mountain climbing. The people that inhabit in this part of Ethiopia have an amazing culture and way of life religious.
Practical information before your trip to
Daily flights with Ethiopian Airlines (www.ethiopianairlines.com) connect Addis Ababa to Aksum and Mekele. Privately owned local airline companies can also, arrange non-scheduled or chartered flights upon request.
Road transport can be arranged through any tour operator in Addis Ababa, or with local operators in Mekelle or Aksum. Local guides are readily available in the town of Megab near the Gheralta Mountains.
Guides are available in the town of Hawzen and Megab to take you to all churches of Geheralta. Some of the churches are accessible by car up to the underneath of the cliff. Some of them accessed by walking some distance and climbing to the rock churches.
There are plenty of Standard lodging facilities in Gheralta and its surroundings. Constructed with local touch, the lodges in this part of Ethiopia are an attraction by themselves.