The Tigray is a large region northeast of the country. It is a semi-arid zone known for its magnificent churches and spectacular landscapes. In this area, like everywhere in Ethiopia, there are numerous orthodox churches.
In the Tigray, several of them are magnificent because of the paintings and the architecture that they shelter, but also for their location. Sometimes, a vertical rock walls must be climbed for several metres to reach the church. This climb by itself, surrounded by fabulous scenery, is well worth going there.
We only visited a few churches among the most famous ones. The three churches presented below are all in the Gueralta cluster.
Maryam Korkor church and Tigrayan churches have a different architecture than those of Lalibela. The latter were hewn entirely in the rock while those of Tigray are only partly hewn in the rock. In the Tigray, craftsmen carved part of a church in a cavern and the rest was built on the outside.
The result is also very impressive, and these churches often blend in the surrounding environment. Sometimes, several walls have been built, at other times, only a small door provides access to the cave that has been converted into a richly decorated church.
Maryam Korkor shelters paintings made by different artists. These paintings date from the 13th to the 17th depending on the work.
On the opposite of the mountain, behind Maryam Korkor, there is a tiny church on the edge of an impressive cliff. The cliff drops several hundred metres down.
Daniel Korkor (or Abouna Daniel) also contains some very nice paintings.
We visited another magnificent church in this rock mass. Once again, going up was impressive and the help of a scout was needed to know how to climb the rock wall. This place is not recommended for those suffering from vertigo.
The paintings in this church date from the 15th to the 16th century. They represent, among others, the Syrian saints that evangelized the country in the 6th century and the brother of the Christ (yes, indeed, a brother?).