Exploring Tourism in Ethiopia
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Gheralta Massif Tigray

Hawzen, Ethiopia

Nothing testifies to the ancientness of Christianity in Tigre more than the province’s rock-hewn churches. Situated on mountain-sides, in gorges, and other out-of-the-way-places, the churches in the Gherlata region offer an undeniable spiritual uplift. Bulky, reddish sandstone mountains and deep canyons reveal millions of years of earth history in their stratification. This is a region of buttes and columns of rock rising hundreds of feet from the valley floor. The colors are clear and intense. The natural grandeur may explain the motives of the ancient church builders, who burrowed their sanctuaries into the awesome architecture of the mountains rather than build less inspiring mud structures at ground level. After the decline of the Axumite Empire in the seventh century, Axumites had every reason to begin hiding their churches on mountaintops outside the capital to keep them safe from intruders. The churches remained all but unknown to the outside world until 1966, but today new roads and decent lodgings are opening up the region.


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