Ethiopia has a rich history when it comes to the religion and some people end up making pilgrimages to the different religious sites that are found in the different parts of the country. Ethiopia’s religious sect is mostly filled with Orthodox Christians and Moslems and other Christian sects cover like 1% of the total population in the country and a religious tour to Ethiopia will give you all the information that you need.
There are various religious destinations that devotees make a pilgrimage to either to pay homage or to go and find out more about how religion came into the country. Despite the fact that the country was not colonized, the presence of Italians in the country and Arabs who used to trade in the coffee brought about religion in Ethiopia.
The several religious destinations that you can visit when you get a chance to visit Ethiopia and these include the following:
The church of Saint George is one of the rock hewn churches that can be found in the Lalibela region and it is one of the first churches that were constructed in the region. It was constructed using a red rock which makes it more enticing and people go to Lalibela just to have a fresh look at the church. The best time to visit the church to get to know more about the religious aspect of the church and its history is during the dry season and in the morning or evening in order to get the first sunrise and sunset from the hill of the St George church.
The Jamia is located in the largest Holy city in Ethiopia Harar. Harar’s population is filled with many Moslems due to the presence of the earlier Arabs who used to trade coffee in the area. The Jamia mosque is the largest of the 81 mosques that are found in the area and it is located right at the center of the Harar city. The mosque was uniquely constructed and Moslems who do not live in the city make a pilgrimage to the Holy city to pay homage to the prophet Mohammed and if you are not a Moslem, you will not be allowed to enter into the mosque but you can still marvel at it from the outside but be ready to face the large crowds that will be caused by the many pilgrimages.
One of the many churches found in the Lalibela region is the Golgotha church and it is considered to be the holiest church in Lalibela. The church also known as the Bet Golgotha was constructed in the same area where the king Lalibela was buried and every year many Christians make a pilgrimage to the church to honor the king who later became a saint. Miracles have been rumored to take place at the church by many pilgrims who have been healed from various ailments after visiting the church. The only downside about visiting the church is that women are not in any way allowed to enter into the church and it can only be accessed by men but you can still join the many pilgrims to go visit the church and explore the Lalibela region.
The synagogue is just a few minutes away from the Gondar city. It is said that Jews lived in the area and constructed the synagogue before they went back to Israel. The locals used to refer to them as the Beta Israel and at the moment they are known as the lost tribe in Ethiopia but the mark that they left for the Christians in the country is still visible as they make annual pilgrims to the shrine for solitude prayers.
Negash is the area where Muslims first settled on the African continent. There is a mosque that was constructed in the 7th century and it became the first settlement after followers of Prophet Mohammed fled from mecca in order to avoid persecution and to this day many Moslems still make a pilgrimage o Negash in Ethiopia on a pilgrimage so as to remember those that came and settled there and brought the good news from the Prophet Mohammed.
The Dire sheik shrine is another Muslim place where hundreds of Muslims make a pilgrimage to every year. It is located on the Eastern side of the Bale Mountain and it is a considered a Holy place to the Muslim community in Ethiopia. You might not be allowed to enter into the shrine especially if you are not a Muslim but you can still join the crowd and admire the shrine from the outside and the view that is provided by the Bale Mountain.
The Dega Estefanos which is located in the Lake Tana region is one of the many monasteries that were constructed by an unknown saint during the 16th century. The tour guides tell a story of the saint arrived in Ethiopia and it is a fascinating one. They say that he arrived on the shores of Lake Tana in a boat that was made of stone and when you make a pilgrimage to the Dega, you will find the make of the boat in one of the routes that lead to the monastery. When you get to the monastery you will be welcomed by monks who will show you around and let you in on some of the religious history behind the monastery. The monastery is also a home to mummified bodies of former emperors of Ethiopia which amount to about five bodies and one of them is actually adorned with the Aksumite symbols and the trek to the church is not that far away from the Lake shores.
The Sof-Oma caves were named after the Muslim leader Sof-Omar and they are of big significance when it comes to the Muslim community in the country. These can be explored with the help of an experienced tour guide who will take you through the caving process in the Sof-Oman cave. Just like in the Harar city, many Muslims travel long distances to come and make a pilgrimage to the cave and you can join them but with a tour guide so that you do not make any mistakes.
The Ark of the Covenant church is located in the old city of Aksum. The church was constructed as a house to the Ark of God which was brought to the country by the one who is believed to be the son of the King Solomon and Queen Sheba. History states that the Ark was brought to Ethiopia over 3000 years ago and it was after the emperor Menelik I visited his father the King Solomon and came back with it. The historic significance of the Ark has seen many people go to the Aksum on a pilgrimage so that they can get a close feel of the covenant. There is only one priest who resides in the church and takes care of the Ark and people are not allowed to come close to the church due to its holiness but you can still visit the church with other pilgrims.
The church of Saint Mary also known as the Bet Maryam is one of the rock churches that are found in the Lalibela region and it was constructed in dedication of the Mother Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. The way is so unique with the side of the church being decorated with some of the colors that are used by the Mother Mary and the curves in the ceiling were made using hands by those that constructed it. Many pilgrims go to the church on the church Marian days to remember her and get graces from Mother Mary. Some pilgrims also say that they have received miracles from the church. Visiting the church is quite easy and all you have to do is either join the pilgrims or plan your own trip to the church.
The above mentioned are some of the religious places that you can visit on your religious trip to Ethiopia but if you have time, you can join all the religious cities in the country and visit all the relics that are found in the cities and these are the Harar city which is the fourth largest Holy city in the world, the Tigray churches, the Lake Tana monasteries and the Axum religious sites. The religious trip is not meant for only those with religious views because the places that they visit also hold a historical significance to the country and therefore anyone can join in the if not to join the pilgrims then just to gaze upon the churches, mosques and museums that are found in the different religious cities of Ethiopia.