Gheralta is a rural area in the heart of Tigray region characterized by breath-taking landscapes where more than 200 hundred ancient churches are carved in the rock. Each of them is dedicated to one of the many saints of the Orthodox tradition, so there are multiple possibilities throughout the year to find a great celebration in one of these unique places hidden in the mountains in a particular and intimate atmosphere.
One of the outstanding celebrations is the annual day celebrated in Abreha and Atsebeha church, an accessible and popular church where thousands of believers convey at the end of October, spending the night around the church. All the surrounding mountains are spotted by the white shapes of the “shamma” wear by the pilgrims.
Is a big national holiday celebrated throughout the country, in Tigray is especially colourful in Addigrat, where a big number of believers flow to the peak of a little mountain found beside the city.
The core moment of the celebrations is the bonfire that commemorates the one that showed to empress Hellen the place where the true cross was found.
The nine saints were priests, probably originally from Syria, who came to Ethiopia and played a core role in the diffusion of Christianity in the Tigray region back in the V century. The most important monasteries and churches are devoted to them, like the amazing church of Abuna Yemata, or the monastery of Debre Damo.