A man entering the grass and moss covered bastion of the island monastery, Narga Selassie, on Lake Tana

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Narga Selassie

Top choice in Lake Tana & its Monasteries

Set in the middle of the lake on Dek Island, Narga Selassie is peaceful, atmospheric and little visited. Built in the mid-18th century, it has a Gonderian influence and the fine original paintings include a portrait of Mentewab and there’s also a bas-relief of James Bruce (smoking his pipe) at the main entrance. It’s three hours by boat and a two-minute walk from the landing.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lake Tana & its Monasteries attractions

1. Dega Estefanos


One of the lake’s most sacred monasteries, Dega Estefanos (men only) was rebuilt in the mid-19th century and though the church isn’t too interesting, it…

2. Bete Selassie

15.08 MILES

Bete Selassie (men only) is a 30- to 45-minute walk inland from the Lake Tana shore at Zege Peninsula. The simple exterior of the church (rebuilt in 1858)…

3. Azuwa Maryam

15.28 MILES

The thatch roof atop the church at Azuwa Maryam helps make it the best-looking church on Zege (currently Bete Maryam is the only other church with thatch)…

4. Zeghie Satekela Museum

15.39 MILES

Outside the gate to Ura Kidane Meret is the private Zeghie Satekela Museum, with a collection of household items displayed in a 300-year-old home.

5. Ura Kidane Meret

15.41 MILES

The Zege Peninsula’s largest and most famous monastery is hardly the most attractive on the outside, but its maqdas (inner sanctuary) is beautifully…

6. Bete Giorgis

15.42 MILES

Just uphill from Bete Maryam, Bete Giorgis is being rebuilt from scratch following a fire. Its small museum, with an important collection of crowns, is…

7. Bete Maryam

15.42 MILES

Founded in the 13th century, Bete Maryam, near the tip of the peninsula, is the oldest monastery on Zege and its attractive church has some excellent…

8. Tana Cherkos

15.77 MILES

It’s said the Ark of the Covenant was hidden at Tana Cherkos for 800 years, which would seem to indicate it’s an interesting destination, but the present…