Abuna Yemata Guh: Ethiopia’s Chapel In The Sky

Abuna Yemata Guh is a monolithic church located in the Hawzen woreda of the Tigray Region, Ethiopia. It is situated at a height of 2,580 meters and has to be climbed on foot to reach. The church is named after Father Yemata, a priest who carved the church out of the cliff face in the 5th century. It is notable for its dome and wall paintings dating back to the 5th century and its architecture. Carved into the sheer cliffs of the Gheralta Mountains, this ancient church is a testament to the incredible craftsmanship and devotion of its creators. Inaccessible for centuries, the site lay undisturbed due to its remote location, visited only by wandering monks and devout Christians. This seclusion allowed much of the artwork found inside to remain in near pristine condition.

At 2,500 feet, Ethiopia’s Abuna Yemata Guh is arguably the most inaccessible place of worship on earth, carved into the side of a cliff, with a sheer drop of 650 feet on all sides

Abuna Yemata Guh

The paintings on the walls and domes of the church are preserved in a reasonable state. Extensive study was undertaken to understand the reason behind this phenomenon. The design of the traceries in the church replicates those found in nearby churches of Gher’alta, such as Debre Tsion church. There are more paintings depicting figures from the Old Testament than from the New Testament. The dry air and lack of humidity have preserved these frescoes in their original perfection. The paintings date back to initial traces of Christianity in Ethiopia and are themed around the nine saints and twelve apostles. The oldest icons are in the form of diptychs and triptychs dating back to the fifteenth century.

The wall paintings of Abuna Yemata Guh date back to the 5th century

Abuna Yemata Guh
Abuna Yemata Guh