4 main types of churches

1. early built churches from the 7th century and later. this abune aregawi church on the debre damo is one of the earliest, in aksumite style



2. more recently built churches from the 17th century and later, often with a circular plan and thatched roofing. this picture shows the debre sina maryam on the northern coast of lake tana. modern churches can have any shape due to western influences.


3. rock hewn churches called
cave churches, they are hewn into a vertical rock face. in most cases they only show their entrance opening, only a hole in the rock face. this is the abuna yemata church in guh. the entrance is hidden between the two persons.



4. rock hewn churches called monolithic churches. they are hewn top down from a horizontal rock face like the quedus ghiorghis (saint george) in lalibela. this church has a cruciform plan. apart from its floor it is completely freed from the rock.

many scholars call all rock hewn churches ‘monoliths’. that is of course beyond the meaning of the term monolith. type no.3 is essentially a hole in the rock, a cave, referring to the absence of rock material, whereas the term monolith (mono = one, lithos = stone) refers explicitly to the material, freed top down from the mother rock, be it that the floor is still attached. so there are cave churches and monoliths or rock churches.

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