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Welcome to Lake Tana
Lake Tana called Tsana is the largest lake in Ethiopia, situated in Amhara Region, north of the beautiful town of Bahir Dar. Tana is the source from where the Blue Nile starts its long journey to Khartoum in Sudan, the lake is approximately 85 km long and 70 km wide, an elevation of 1840 meters. Lake Tana is unique as the home of thirty seven scattered islands, twenty of which are home to monasteries.

Remains of ancient Ethiopian emperors and treasures of the Ethiopian Church are kept in the isolated island monasteries. The monasteries are earlier religious sites and include the fourteenth century Debre Maryam, the eighteenth century Narga Selassie. Tana Qirqos island have been a spiritual retreat long before Christianity was established in Ethiopia, Tana Qirqos once housed the Ark of the Covenant for 800 years, before it was moved to Axum. All of the islands churches are the main tourist attractions, the churches are decorated with beautiful sacral paintings.

A boat trip on Lake Tana is one of the most pleasant excursions, hiring a boat is pretty straightforward at the lakeside town of Bahir Dar, the islands and peninsulas of the lake are most conveniently approached by boats. A weekly Sundays Lake Tana Ferry crosses between Bahir Dar to Gorgora, two day journey which involves an overnight stop in Konzula, a pleasant alternative to the bus trip.

Tana lakeshore make an ideal place for Bird Watcher's, the whole of the Lake Tana region and the Blue Nile gorge host a wide variety of birds; endemic and migratory. The variety of habitats, from rocky crags to riverside forests and important wetlands, ensure that many other different species could be spotted here. Bird lovers should make a trip to Fasilides Island, at the eastern side of the lake, Fasilides Island is the breeding point for a number of wetland species, a Bird Watcher's paradise.

Hipopotam in lake Tana     Tana Hotel     Girl from Lake Tana island     Tana church priest

Medieval monasteries on Lake Tana, a long boat ride away from town of Bahir Dar is the island monastery of Kibran Gabrael, like many monasteries it's off-limits to women. The most interesting island monastery of those within reach from town of Bahir Dar is of Daga Istafanos, the church it houses a 15th century Madonna painting. The main point is the mausoleum which contains the glass coffins that hold the mummified remains of five Ethiopian emperors, including King Fasilides founder of the Gondar Castle.

The Kibran Gabrael monastery has famous library of medieval manuscripts, the level of artistry in the books is equal to any of the great works of medieval France or Italy, yet completely different in style. The librarian opens up book after book of sturdy goatskin, showing richly colored paintings of Bible scenes. Each of the Gospels has its own book, and there's a New and Old Testament that weighs in at 17 kg / 38 pounds, the library has impressive selection of icons.

ethio art

Medieval church on Lake Tana

ethio art