Islands and Monasteries
Besides its natural gifts, Lake Tana is also endowed with various historic heritages. The areas around the lake harbor dozens of adorned churches and monasteries dating back to medieval times. They served as place of refuge from the time of Emperor Amde Tsion’s persecutions (14th century) until the end 19th century. During different period the monasteries have got attention of monarchs of Ethiopia who ruled the country. The emperors came there to pray for the success of their military campaigns, their bodies were buried on the islands and the region still hosts some of the oldest and most beautiful manuscripts and artefacts from the old emperors of the Ethiopian Empire.
The monasteries also house myriads of treasures, beautiful mural paintings, icons, parchment manuscripts, scrolls and emperors assets. They have been used as safekeeping places for the religious relics and art treasures during the times of trouble. In the trouble periods, these valuable treasures were transferred to these monasteries from all corners of the country. Even the Ark of the Covenant was once kept temporarily in one of the monasteries-Tana Qirqos. Consequently, these monasteries have served as museums for the Ethiopian church arts and emperors assets.
These monasteries are reached by motorboats. But, tankwas_papyrus reed boats (galleys) of ancient design that add extra beauty for Lake Tana are the main forms of transport for the local people and for the monks. They have been used since the Egyptian civilization from about 3500 BC. These cane boats are manufactured on the shores of Lake Tana from papyrus tree.
The monasteries could drive attention of visitors particularly; domestic religious visitors are jealous to have travel to monasteries.