Atsbi Wonberta Cluster

Atsbi – Wonberta is located east of Wukro and bears the churches of Mikael Barka, Debreselam Mikael and Mikael Imba. These splendidly executed edifices are found perched on a mountain commanding a view of their surroundings.


Mikael Barka is located just off the road towards the right side of the Wukro – Atsbi road. It is only 18km east of the town Wukro. This church is carved from the top of an isolated and roughly round rock hill. Despite its dimensions, it is rather easy to reach, and one of the least visited relics in the region. From the top of the hill, one can enjoy a commanding view of the mountain of Tserae and the valley of Womberta to the southeast.

There are a number of graves and a few dwellings inside the churchyard. The church has a built facade, which, according to the chief priest, was built in 1967. Two entrances lead from the anteroom to the sanctuary.

It is a three aisled and three bayed square church, 9m wide and 9m deep. It has twelve columns, four of them freestanding and cruciform in design. The bracket capitals at different heights and the domes and altars are skillfully executed. The ceiling is decorated with a variety of patterns in relief.

Mikael Barka is not known for its wealth of paintings, but one can see murals depicting Saint Mikael. There are also faded murals visible on several columns. Tradition has it that the church was burnt by Queen Judith in the tenth century. According to oral tradition, the edifice is believed to have been sculpted in the 6th century under the auspices of Abune Abraham, an Ethiopian saint.

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