Lake Tana, Beta Maryam Monastery
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Lake Tana, Beta Maryam Monastery

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Many of the churches and monasteries of Lake Tana are very famous cultural museums because of their beautiful mural paintings and many other valuable treasures such as varieties of crosses, crowns, costumes of Kings, illuminated manuscripts, mummified bodies and remains of several Ethiopia Emperors in wooden coffins and glass boxes. In addition, they have been used as the major refugees for many cultural treasures of the country in general and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in particular during the times of war and worse conditions in the history of the country like the devastating wars of Ahmed Gragn.

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    Gracias Pilar Aluxia, los Monasterios del lago Tana en su interior guardan preciosas y coloristas pinturas...
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  • Curioso Monasterio, me encantan las pinturas.
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  • Thank you Dear Carmen and Pilar, GRACIAS
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  • Otra belleza. Nuevamente gracias y felicitaciones. Pilar
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  • An original monastery. Thanks for this tour Michaela. Congrats!
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  • 1.
  • 2. Lake Tana is Ethiopia's largest lake and famous for the churches and monasteries on 20 of the lake's 37 islands. Located in Amhara Region in the north- western Ethiopian Highlands, the lake is approximately 84 kilometers long and 66 kilometers wide, with a maximum depth of 15 meters, and an elevation of 1,788 meters. The Lake is known as the home of the Monasteries founded on some of the 20 of its 37 Islands. Founded in the 13th century, Beta Maryam, near the tip of the peninsula, is the oldest monastery on Zege peninsula and its attractive church has some excellent murals that, unfortunately, suffered water damage. It’s a short walk from the landing through lemon and coffee trees
  • 3. a short walk from the landing stage through lemon trees and coffee plants.
  • 4. Coffee tree
  • 5. Upon arrival you will be greeted by locals selling traditional handicrafts, as well as other trinkets. They have makeshift wooden stalls lining the paths leading to the monasteries. Thankfully they are not very pushy, and will leave you alone if you say you are not interested.
  • 6. Some would say that this selling takes away some of the atmosphere. But if you were from a poor village and had something like this in your backyard, it is only natural to try and support your family with the selling of souvenirs. And the people are friendly and the children cheeky as always.
  • 7. The monasteries are traditionally built in the old style, being round. They have three areas. The inner sanctuary where only priests are allowed, the inner area and the outer area, where worshippers gather. Inside are paintings and art dating back centuries, making for a colourful display. With the smell of incense and darkly lit interior, one can be sent back to old mystical times.
  • 8. The monastery of Beta Maryam consists, like the others, of a wooden church shaped like a traditional African house, with a thatched roof, topped by a large cross, decorated with ostrich eggs
  • 9. Inside the Lake Tana churches have three spaces: • the outer corridor, the "qene mehlet", accessible to anyone; • an inner circular corridor called the "qiddist" which is used by the worshippers at mass; and • the holiest room, the "maqdas" in which the "tabot" - a stone tablet with the 10 commandments. Only priests may enter.
  • 10. The Ethiopian churches are the custodians of both religious and royal treasures such as royal crowns, ancient bibles, historical art, sacred relics, including the remains of royals, etc.
  • 11. Lake Tana has thirty-seven islands, twenty of which are home to churches and monasteries. Some of them dated back to the 13th century and many others are dated from the 14th century to the Gonderine period of the 17th and 18th centuries. Many of the original churches of Lake Tana are said to be renovated and reconstructed during the Gonderine period.
  • 12. Sound: Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah Text: Internet Pictures: Sanda Foişoreanu Sanda Negruţiu Daniel Scrãdeanu Alin Samochis Internet Copyright: All the images belong to their authors Presentation: Sanda Foi oreanuş