The remote islands and forested peninsulas of Lake Tana are home to some of Ethiopia’s most venerated monastic churches. The antiquity of these monasteries is difficult to ascertain, but most probably date to the thirteenth and fourteenth century, and some may be a lot older, with Tana Kirkos in particular likely to have started life as a Judaic temple in Aksumite times. The Lake Tana monasteries are generally of limited architectural interest, certainly by comparison to the rock-hewn churches of Tigrai or Lalibela, but some host superb examples of Ethiopia’s ecclesiastical art, and many also have treasuries filled with ancient books and other artefacts. The lake itself also plays host to plenty of birds, ranging from stately pelicans and herons to vociferous fish eagles and darting kingfishers.

 

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