Debre Damo

Debre Damo

Debre Damo Monastery

Debre Damo Monastery

Debre Damo Monastery was founded by Abuna Aregawi, one of the nine saints, in 6th century. Tradition has that while Abuna Aregawi was praying at the foothill, God sent him serpent with St. Michel. The serpent curled around the waist of Abuna Aregawi, pulled him up and put on the top of amba, a flat topped mountain; rises to 3000 m. Then, King Gebre Meskel built the monastery with typical Axumite architecture. It is here visitors appreciate the wood and white washed stone involved in the construction. The monks may show to visitors the pools with water, the place where Abuna Aregawi was vanished and hermits cave. It is climbed by 18 ms long rope that is only made of animal skin. Only men are allowed to visit.

Debre Damo is the name of a flat-topped mountain, or amba, and a 6th-century monastery in northern Ethiopia. The mountain is a steeply rising plateau of trapezoidal shape, about 1000 by 400 m in dimension. With a latitude and longitude of 14°22′26″N 39°17′25″ECoordinates: 14°22′26″N 39°17′25″E, it sits at an elevation of 2216 m above sea level. It is west of Adigrat, in the Mehakelegnaw Zone of the Tigray Region.

The monastery, accessible only by rope up a sheer cliff, 15 m high, is known for its collection of manuscripts and for having the earliest existing church building in Ethiopia that is still in its original style, and only men can visit it. Tradition claims the monastery was founded in the 6th century by Abuna Aregawi.

The monastery received its first archeological examination by E. Litton, who led a German expedition to northern Ethiopia in the early 20th century.By the time that David Buxton saw the ancient church in the mid-1940s, he found it “on the point of collapse.The exterior walls of the church were built of alternating courses of limestone blocks and wood.

 

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