Eritrea flag   Eritrea . be We show you Eritrea  

Map of Eritrea
Location and geography
Eritrean history
Border conflict with Ethiopia
Political structure
Eritrean anthem
Economy & currency
Health care
News, links, books and more

Asmara (Asmera)
Agordat (Akordat)
Assab (Asseb)
Dahlak islands
Dekemhare (Decemhare)
Ghinda (Ginda)
Keren (Cheren)
Massawa (Massauwa)
Mendefera (Adi Ugri)
Nakfa (Nacfa)
Semenawi Bahri (Filfil)
Tessenei (Teseney)



Eritrean Orthodox Church


Saint Georgis Orthodox Church - Gejeret Asmara Eritrea.

Saint Georgis Orthodox Church - Gejeret Asmara Eritrea.

Much of what is practiced in the Orthodox church today has been in practice for hundreds of years and stem from passages found in the Bible. If you have tried to time your visits to correspond with a church service and found the doors locked, it is probably because you have attempted this excursion too late in the day. Church services are held early every Sunday morning (6 am) and last for two hours. After this service the church is locked.

During Lent, the Church is open every day, for longer periods (4 am-22:30pm) with the church service held at noon. Followers fast during the 60 day Lenten period. No dairy products, meats or eggs are eaten. For the rest of the year, and for those adhering strictly to religious doctrine, Wednesdays and Fridays are observed as "minor" fasting days. Abstinence from dairy products, meat and eggs is practiced but fish can be eaten.

The congregation is predominantly women. Some women will be found worshipping inside a church, others prefer the space and solitude of the church grounds.


Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.


The Orthodox church in Eritrea is often rectangular in shape but round ones can also be found. What is important is that the congregation faces east towards the section within the church that holds the talbot, the symbolic original Ten Commandments. This area is the most holy of the areas and is sealed off from all but the priests of the church. Each church is named after a patron saint. The saint's name day is celebrated each month by the church congregation and once a year in a special festival.

Visitors are heartily encouraged to visit an Orthodox church. Members are proud of their church and are warm in their welcome. Shoes must be removed before entering the church and can be left at the church door or carried. Inside the church, you will find lovely murals of the apostles, scenes from the life of Christ, and stories from the Old and New Testament. The wealthier the congregation or church, the more paintings one finds on the walls. Presents of rugs, clocks, and saints' pictures may adorn the sanctuary. There is a noticeable absence of chairs or pews as one is either kneeling in worship or standing leaning on long teed-off sticks. In times past the service was in Ge'ez, today it is in the secular language of Tigrigna. Note that the men stand on the left hand side of the church and the women on the right.


Every church hosts a yearly religious festival, adding to the Orthodox holidays. The dates of some of these festivals and holidays are listed here.

2009 Festival of the Saint Georgis Orthodox Church in Gejeret area of Asmara.
2009 Festival of the Saint Michael Orthodox Church in the Sanita area of Asmara.
2009 Festival of the Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral of Asmara.


Saint Michael Orthodox Church Festival - Asmara Eritrea.

Saint Michael Orthodox Church Festival - Asmara Eritrea.



Visitors to the Orthodox monasteries (The most popular are Debre Bizen near Nefasit, Debre Sina near Elabered and Debre Libanos near Senafe) have to obtain permission from the headquarters of the Patriarchate of the Orthodox church of Eritrea.

At some monasteries only males are allowed. You should be reasonably fit for the visit, as their locations are often in remote and hard to access places. One should be well prepared for these hikes that will take a few hours. But it is well worth the climb as it affords stunning views, and a good taste of religious history.

2006 My hike to Debre Bizen


        | Home & index | About us | Top of page | Contact us | Guestbook |