Mariam Wukro

Mariam Wukro is one of the finest rock-hewn churches in northern Ethiopia, accessible from both Aksum and Hawzien. The rock church masterpiece of Tigrai, the building reveals the Ethiopians ‘ architectural ingenuity. It perpetuated the marvelous architectural trajectory of the country from Yeha to Aksum and Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches.

There is no indication of the beauty of the interior of the church from its exterior. Its façade is hewn roughly to blend perfectly with the rock it’s carved out of. The church’s inside is an antithesis of its outside. The church’s interior is decorated with high ceilings, beautifully decorated domes and arched columns. In addition to the ten bas-relief columns, the church’s inner circuit (Kine Mahlet) and sanctuary (Mekdes) have at least six free-standing pillars. The colossal columns range from three to nine meters in height. Beautifully carved twin arches connect two of the free-standing columns in the kine mahlet. Mariam Wukro, reminiscent of Lalibela’s churches, is decorated in relief by magnificent arches and Greek crosses. The striking expertise involved in interior decoration design and execution simply belongs to a different class.
However, like most Tigrai rock churches, after it was built, Mariam Wukro was ‘ discovered ‘ a millennium. In 1939, Italian professor Antonio Mordini first reported it to the rest of the world.

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