Lake Tana & Blue Nile Falls: Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, situated north of the beautiful town of Bahir Dar is the source from where the famous Blue Nile River starts its long journey to Khartoum and to the Mediterranean via Egypt beautiful paintings.
Lake Tana Source of The majestic Blue Nile River
The Blue Nile falls into a canyon to form one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Africa, --150 feet high and about a half mile wide, these millions of gallons of water gush downward creating a cloud of mist which is called Tisisat--"a Smoking fire".
Around the shore and on the islands of Lake Tana, many monasteries have been flourished, with their own theological schools, which still exist, housing immense historical and cultural treasures adorned with beautiful paintings. Along the lakeshore bird life, both local and migratory visitors, make the site an ideal place for birdwatchers.
The first stop was at Zege Peninsula, housing several monasteries. We first visited Ura Kidane Mihret, which does not look very special from the outside, as the traditional straw roof has been replaced by a corrugated iron one. But once you take off your shoes and step inside, you are bound to be impressed by the very colorful murals all around the inner wall of the church. On it, you can find a summary of Biblical stories, all painted cartoon style. Or are they Biblical scenes? Upon closer inspection, some of the scenes are very cruel: heads being chopped off, limbs leaving bleeding corpses, people hanging upside down from crosses... In one scene, you can even find soldiers with rifles depicted on the brightly colored wall.
From Ura Kidane Mihret, we visited Azuma Maryam, which had more painted religious scenes, after which we visited the island of Kibran Gebriel. Until some time ago, women were not allowed on the island, now they have to stay near the water. The men went up on an excursion to the monastery of Kibran Gebriel, but stopped by some amazingly complex spiderwebs full of spiders. Once up in the monastery, we were shown some exquisite old goatskin religious books, painted and iron crosses before visiting the church proper. The style was visibly different from the one at the other Lake Tana monasteries, the paintings were much more damaged, but I found the paintings more finely done than the other churches. Furthermore, the building was completely different, with blocks of stone neatly fitting onto each other and forming high pillars on which the church rested. From this small island, it was only a short hop back to Bahir Dar; on the way we saw a reed tankwa, or traditional boat which is very similar to the ones depicted in ancient Egyptian engravings.