Tana Kirkos, set on the island of Tana 35km north of Bahir Dar near the lake’s eastern shore, has the most ancient pedigree of the island monasteries. The church itself was possibly founded as early as the fourth century, probably on the site of an older Jewish temple. A rather improbable tradition states that it was at Tana Kirkos that the Ark of the Covenant was stowed for eight centuries prior to being transferred to Aksum by King Ezana. The church itself is of no architectural interest but the island does contain a unique group of hollowed-out Judaic sacrificial pillars which go a long way to supporting its claim to a pre-Christian origin. Please note that the monastery is not open to women.

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