The Tigray province has more than twenty old churches apparently worth visiting. However most of them are in remote and hard to get to places, like mountain tops, steep mountain sides. A couple were accessible as they were in reasonable distance from a road. Three types of churches, monolithic where the whole church were carved out of a mountain, semimonolithic where part of the church, the entrance, was built with building blocks, and grotto churches where the complete church was built in a big cave. We visited all three types. They had in common that they were quite small and dark inside and often had a mixture of old and new decorations. Pictures from a semimonolithic church.
From the inside.
Here are some pictures from monolittic churches.
Some of the decorations were chiseled out of the rock with no or little paint.
We also visited a church built in a cave. That had been a very holy place where people had come to die. So more than 10000 people were buried there. A small waterfall fell down nest to the entrance, and that was considered as holy water. So we saw many standing naked under the water.
This is the entrance to the church inside the cave.
Decorations were more on the cave walls and ceiling.
Here is the holy waterfall.
The impression I am left with after seeing these churches is actually the same as after the festivals in Addis Abeda and Mekelle and that is that the Christian religion was and is very important to the people. The church is among the oldest Christian churches and has its own identity. Among those was one I noticed. In all churches, and there were many, had 30-40 men included in running the church as deacons, priests etc. Whith so many involved the church came very close to the people. A reformation was definitely not imminent.