Ethiopia (November-December 2013)

Rock-Hewn Churches of Tigray (2): Abuna Yemata Guh and Debre Maryam Korkor

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The churches of Abuna Yemata Guh and Debre Maryam Korkor lie on the west of Wukro in a spectacular rocky mountain called the Gheralta Mountain. I had visited these two churches during the summer of 1973 (see here). Forty years later nothing much has changed, except that reaching these churches is considerably easier.

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The Gheralta Mountain seen in the early morning coming from Hawzien.

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The site of Abuna Yemata Guh (marked with a red arrow in the second picture).

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The ascent to the church is steep, but good hand and foot holds have been carved in the sandstone cliff.

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The stone bells of Abuna Yemata Guh.

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The church, which lies completely inside a rock pillar (left), is finally accessed by following a ledge (right).

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The inside of the church boasts gorgeous original and perfectly preserved roof and wall paintings (15th century?).

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View from the exterior of Abuna Yemata Guh.

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The following picture was taken from a location close to the church of Maryam Korkor. In the middle of the picture one can see the rocky outcrop in which Abuna Yemata Guh lies. I hiked from Abuna Yemata Guh to Maryam Korkor by first following the dry river visible in the picture and then ascending the cliffs on the left. The ascent is relatively easy, except for a short section (shortly before reaching the normal path to Maryam Korkor) that requires some rock-climbing skills.

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The outside of Maryam Korkor is not especially interesting, but the large interior is beautiful with old paintings (13th century?) and cruciform pillars.

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View from the cliff on the back side of Maryam Korkor.

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Another view from the same cliff. See here for a similar photo that I took 40 years ago during the rainy season.

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The two photos above were taken from the central part of this cliff.

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Link to Mikael Imba and Mikael Melehayzenghi

 

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