Perched 11km north of the Axum- Adigrat zigzagging road, Debre Damo (admission for men only) is thought to date back to the 6th century reign of King Gebre Mesqel. Within its premises is found what’s likely to be the oldest standing church in the country (10th or 11th century AD), which is also a great example of an Axumite-style building. The churchyard, built up on the north eastern side of the Imba to form a level podium, is surrounded by a stone wall that encloses the treasury and bell tower.

The flat-topped “Amba” (plateau) measures about 1000 meters from northeast to southwest and 500 meters from northwest to southeast and is surrounded by sheer cliffs. Ascent to the mountaintop is only possible by using a 17 meter plaited leather rope that hangs down from the summit. According to local tradition, Abune Aregawi is believed to have been taken to the top of the Imba with the help of a serpent that was commanded to do so by God. Today the rope symbolizes the miraculous serpent. Visitors need to be tightly tied up around their waists by the supplementary rope as a means of additional safety.