Michael Imba

A bench mark for designing and curving Lalibela, Michael Imba is one of the oldest standing wonder churches in Tigrai entirely curved out of a single rock with its roof at ground level. Its a monolithic rock church with several rooms.

Michael Imba is one of the most important rock-hewn churches in Eastern Tigrai, Atsbi Cluster. Located some 9km South of Atsbi, and some 25km North East of Agulae, a little above the Desaa forest, near to the small beautiful town of Hayk Mesahl (approximately 8km north-east) and has an easy 20-minute ascent, which is finished with a short ladder. Its a monolithic rock church with several rooms. The interior is huge (16.6m wide and 9m deep) with 25 pillars (nine freestanding) holding up the 6m-high carefully crafted ceiling.

Its one of the oldest standing wonder churches in Tigrai entirely curved out of a single ground rock with typical resemblance to Lalibela. However, as it is older than these churches, it may well have been used as a model by the designers of the Lalibela churches.

It’s atop a flap rocky mountain of medium accessibility, where reaching it would have been difficult without the long steep man-made stairs. The view from here is great.


Hayk Mesahl is a small town in the Atsbi Womberta Woreda of Eastern Tigrai Zone. The scenic view of Hayk Mesahl, some 17km north-east of Agulae, is undoubtedly breath-taking. The small town of Hayk Mesahl is an important marketplace where the locals and the Afar meet. It’s bordered to the east by Desa’a Forest Reserve and a gravel road connects it to the Atsbi to the north. The landscape that extends to the desert hills of Afar is no where on earth. With beautifully curved rock church of Michael Imba and other religiously important orthodox churches nearby, the town serves as a tourist route.

The rural part of it is green due to a tributary river diverted at some point, and somehow covered by bushes, it make the area optimum for honeybee production. Cactus (Beles) is another treasure in and around Hayk Mesahl, though seriously suffering the same disease injected by irresponsible government officials and ‘researchers’.

The town of Hayk Mesahl is over populated by banks. The reason I heard for this fact is foreign currency. Many people from the town has been migrated to different countries, especially the Arab states. They send money back home so often.

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