1 Day Trip To Debre Damo Monastery And Yeha Temple
In the morning we start the trip after an early breakfast possibly at 7:00 am it’s about 93km drive that will take us around 2 hours to reach the monastery. You'll need to scale a sheer 15m cliff; there will be a thick leather rope to help you climb to the top and the monks will tie a second line around your torso and help pull you up.
Debre Damo monastery is situated on an isolated mountain in northern part of Tigray. It is unique compared with most Ethiopian monasteries. Debre Damo was built, in the sixth century AD, with curved wood panels, painted ceilings and walls dedicated to the legend of Saint (Abune) Aregawi. The history of Debre Damo is centred on the "Nine Saints" who came to Ethiopia from Syria to spread Christianity in the Tigray region. One of them was Saint Aregawi who settled on the mountain of Debre Damo. The other eight saints settled around Tigray countryside and all have their own church named after them.
Debre Damo is magnificent in terms of its location and extensive collection of priceless manuscripts that have remained intact until today. It has become a prominent monastic and educational centre for the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Many books have been written there and distributed to churches throughout Ethiopia.
Debre Damo is only accessible by climbing up by a rope, which is made of "plaited leather", lowered from the cliffs, which visitors tie around their waist and are then pulled up by a monk at the top of the cliffs. It is only accessible to men and male animals. Women and even female animals are forbidden to set a foot into the monastery, and must remain under the cliffs and pray from there. The feast of Saint (Abune) Aregawi is celebrated on October 14 Ethiopian calendar (October 24 Gregorian calendar) which culminates in a pilgrimage to Debre Damo from all over the country.
Afterwards we will drive back to Axum which is 38km from Debre Damo, and will reach Yeha temple and will visit the archaeological site.
Yeha temple is the oldest standing structure in Ethiopia, the Temple of Yeha, is located in Yeha. This is a tower built in the Sabaean style, and dated through comparison with ancient structures in South Arabia to around 700 BC. Although no radiocarbon dating testing has been performed on samples from site, this date for the Great Tower is supported by local inscriptions. David Phillipson attributes its "excellent preservation" to two factors, "the care with which its original builders ensured a level foundation, firmly placed on the uneven bedrock; and to its rededication -- perhaps as early as the sixth century AD -- for use as a Christian church. Two other archaeological sites at Yeha include Grat Beal Gebri, a ruined complex distinguished by a portico 10 meters wide and two sets of square pillars, and a graveyard containing several rock-hewn shaft tombs first investigated in the early 1960s. One authority has speculated that one of these tombs contained a royal burial, while another believes the ancient residential area was likely one kilometer to the east of the modern village.
Ancient stone slabs with Sabaean inscriptions found at Yeha.
Additionally, Yeha is the location of an Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church monastery. The edifice was founded according to tradition by Abba Aftse, one of the Nine Saints. In his account of Ethiopia, Francisco Álvares mentions visiting this town in 1520 (which he called "Abbafaçem"), and provides a description of the ancient tower, the monastery, and the local church. This church was either the rededicated Great Temple, or a now destroyed building which the Deutsche Aksum-Expedition described in the early 20th century. (The current structure, which exhibits Aksumite architectural features, was built between 1948 and 1949.)
The Central Statistical Agency has not published an estimate for this village's 2005 population.
Yeha has also been the site of a number of archaeological excavations, beginning in 1952 by the Ethiopian Institute of Archeology. Although interrupted during the Derg regime, excavations were resumed in 1993 by a French archaeological team,
Our trip will end in Axum around 5:00 pm