When you think of Ethiopia, it is undoubtedly its churches that are among the first things that spring to mind – and in the north, they are particularly spectacular. As one of the first countries to adopt Christianity, Ethiopia has a legacy of churches and monasteries, built on hilltops or hewn out of cliff faces, as well as vibrant traditions of worship. In Bahir Dar, thanks to their remote location, the island monasteries on Lake Tana have remained relatively well hidden for centuries, guarding their treasures against foreign intruders and the passage of time. But for those that know where to look, it is possible to discover many of these hidden gems of antiquity. Lalibela’s eleven churches have evoked awe and wonder since the time of their creation. Many are positioned below ground level and they are a triumph of both construction and worship. The holy city of Axum in the Tigray region also boasts its own archaeological marvels. As well as churches, the north is also home to the ‘Camelot of Africa,’ Gondar. This is a place steeped in fascinating and captivating history and dotted with both palace and castles.And finally, a visit to the north would not be complete without an adventure into the Simien Mountains. They are, quite simply, breathtaking. Aptly described by Homer as ‘chess pieces of the gods,’ this magnificent area is filled with sunken ravines and gorges, soaring rock pinnacles, and fascinating wildlife found nowhere else on earth.
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