Abraha we Atsbeha Rock-Hewn Church
The small town of Wukro, a 47km drive north of Mekelle is close to Abreha we Atsbeha church, one of the best and largest of the rock-hewn churches of Tigrai. It is supposed to have been built in the 4th century by the two royal Axumite brothers, Abreha and Atsbeha (also known as kings, Ezana and Saizana), who first adopted Christianity as a state religion in Ethiopia. Believed to be of very early origin, this cruciform church resembles the churches of Wukro Cherkos and Mikael Imba with 13 high pillars supporting the ceiling. The interior is very large and is decorated with magnificent 17th century paintings depicting Saints and Biblical scenes. The church contains many valuable masterpieces including the beautifully decorated prayer cross, said to have belonged to Frumentius, the first Bishop of Ethiopia, whose ecclesiastical name was Abba Selama, meaning the father of peace. Many Ethiopians believe that the bodies of Abraha and Atsbeha are buried in the church. Thousands of Pilgrims make the journey to Abraha we Atsbeha every year on Tikimt 4 (14th of October).