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Lake Tana Monastries

A lot of very interesting Ethiopian Christian monasteries can be found in Lake Tana, the third greatest lake in Africa. There are some 20 churches and monasteries on the 37 islands. They can be reached by a convenient and fairly comfortable boat ride, which leaves regularly. Most of them date from the 16th and 17th centuries and have changed little since their founding. They are simple huts decorated with colorful scenes from the Bible and lives of the saints. The Zegge Peninsula is home to the very beautiful Ura Kidane Mehret and Bet Maryam monasteries. The former is one of the most-visited of the monasteries. Bet Maryam has an interesting museum/treasury.

Another island is home to Kibran Gabriel, which can only be visited by men (female visitors will be taken to a different island monastery nearby). It also has an interesting museum, filled with old manuscripts, crowns and crosses. Considered One of the most sacred islands on Lake Tana, Daga Estifanos, the monastery of Dek Stefanos has a priceless collection of paintings, icons and manuscripts, and houses the mummified remains of a number of Ethiopian emperor who visited the monastery.

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