Heritage

Debre Damo Monastery – Ethiopia

 

In the far north of Ethiopia, lies Debre Damo, one of the most important sights in the country.

Debre Damo is one of the oldest buildings in Ethiopia, and it sits on top of this impressing table mountain. There are few places in the world more self consciously isolated than this one.

The monastery, dating back to Aksumite times and the 6th-century reign of King Gebre Meskel. has a fame of isolation totally justifyed: the only way to get there -and just if you are a man, as women are not allowed up-  is by scaling a sheer 15m cliff. There is a thick rope made of goat skin to help you climb, and the monks tie a second one around your torso to help pull you up.

When the monastery was first stablished, it´s believed that up to a thousand monks lived up here. Today, there are around 300. It is said to be one of the oldest permanently occupied christian communities in the world, and it´s at least 500 years older than Laiabela.

The monks who live there are are entirely self-sufficient. They grow their own crops, raise their own livestock (all male) and have water reservoirs hewn deep into the rock.

The construction had a collosal ramp, to help get building materials to get up to the platform, once the monastery was completed, the ramp was demolished and Debre Damo was isolated forever.

Location

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