Spellbinding Murals From Ethiopia’s Ancient Orthodox Churches


In honoring the Holiday Spirit, I thought nothing would be more appropriate than presenting mesmerizing biblical themed murals which embellishes the walls and ceiling of many Ethiopia’s orthodox churches and monasteries located in different parts of the country.


Church murals are one of Ethiopia’s rich artistic legacies and one of the most valued features of this prehistoric country… thus today’s virtual journey is more like a throwback to ancient times … it presents ornate murals from ancient churches and monasteries date from the late 16th or early 17th century and may even have been the site of pre-Christian temples.


The interior of many enduring historical churches and monasteries are completely covered with large, colorful, vibrant, and superb murals. Needless to say, no talk about Ethiopian church murals would be complete without mentioning the city of Gondar- home to a historical orthodox church known for its wonderful paintings.


Debre Berhan Selassie Church is one of the most valued highlights of Gondar – a city distinguished for its architecture, superb castles, paintings, and arts. The church is unique in both murals and ceiling paintings and it is the only church in Ethiopia to have painting on the ceiling with faces of angels in all directions.


In exploring awe-inspiring murals a bit further, legendary and centuries-old monasteries  found on Lake Tana islands are one of the best places in Ethiopia.


Occasionally the paintings follow a customary design, portraying persistently the key characters of Ethiopia’s extraordinary pantheon of Saints.


St. Gorge: the patron saint of Ethiopia is extremely popular and frequently portrayed as the great dragon slayer on his horse.


St. Gabriel: God’s messenger is usually symbolized cooling the flames of a fiery furnace or cauldron containing three youths condemned by Nebuchadnezzar: Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego.


St. Raphael: He apparently once rescued an Egyptian church from the tail of a thrashing whale beached on the land. He is usually portrayed killing the whale with his spear.


More biblical themed murals also elaborate the walls of the monasteries. Jacob’s Dream at Bethel.


Judgment Day!



The suffering of Jesus Disciples.


Abraham Tested to sacrifice his only son Isaac.


The murals are not only limited on portraying stories from the Holy Bible or other Orthodox historical, religious old manuscripts, rather the paintings go beyond in venerating Ethiopian Kings, Legends and other ordinary people who contributed whether for the establishment of the church or its endurance.


Since it is that special time of year when many Christians all over the world celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ, I would like to present few murals that typify this particular holiday season.


When visiting Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the murals, one can clearly notice that Virgin Mary is one of the favorite subjects along with a wide variety of incidents from the lives of Mary and Jesus.


Happy Holidays!

About Sara Genene

I am a traveler... on an endless journey of self-discovery!
This entry was posted in Addis Ababa, Adventure, Africa, Architecture, Art, Ethiopia, Historical Travel, Inspiration, Religious, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Uncategorized, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Spellbinding Murals From Ethiopia’s Ancient Orthodox Churches

  1. Adeline says:

    Thank you. I am an orthodox and I didn`t know about orthodox churches in Ethiopia. Thank you for this lesson of culture and civilization 🙂

  2. These are great, and so colourfull! Loved this post!

  3. linda s says:

    So vibrant and alive! Thank you Sara for sharing.

  4. lorenwolf says:

    Thank you, thank you for exposing me to such a wonderful place and such incredible art in Ethiopia.

  5. Violet says:

    Again, I’ve learned something new about Ethiopia. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos as well. Happy Holidays, Sara! 🙂

  6. Tariku says:

    Loved by very few and envied and hated by so many for this wonderful gift of The Almighty. Thank you as usual, my sister for the beautiful presentation. Merry Christmas!

  7. Outstanding post.Merry Christmas and joyous new year.May all your dreams come true.jalal

  8. Cool! And Merry Christmas, Sara 🙂 x

  9. Hi Sara,Here in Los Angeles ,there are few magnificent Orthodox Cathedrals ,they go back to the 19th.century .Your post reminded me of these churches which l visited few months ago.The art work on the walls is breathtaking.Have a wonderful new year.I hope all Christians will have a universal United church one day.Jalal

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