ATSBI – WONBERTA East of Wukro town lies the Atsbi-dera plateau with its striking churches - Mikael Barka, Mikael Imba, and Debre-selam Mikael. These splendidly executed edifices are found perched on mountains with commanding the views of their surroundings. Mikael Barka The rock-hewn church of Mikael Barka can be reached after 18 km drive up the escarpment of the Atsbidera highland plateau east of the town of Wukro. This church is carved from the top of an isolated and roughly round, rock hill. 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. 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 aisles 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 are 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. However, David Buxton thinks that the correct date could be the 13th or 14th century. Mikael Imba Church Mikael Imba is of similar design as Abraha Atsbeha and Wukro Cherkos. With an interior area of 140 square meters, the church is perhaps the most spacious of all the rock churches in Tigrai. The top of the pillars are graced with stepped capitals, the ceiling is meticulously decorated with intricate patterns. Incised in relief, a large Greek cross adorns the ceiling. In terms of decoration and finishing, the church is second to none. According to Dr. Twelde Medhin Yosef, the pioneer in the study of the rock churches of Tigrai, Mikael Imba is “an artistically finished church.” It can be found 15km south of Atsbi or 23km from Agulae. Debre Selam Mikael Church Mikael Debre Selam is undoubtedly one of the finest churches in its architectural design. It is a church within a cave or, as Ivy Pearce referred to it, “a church within a church”. The central door leads in to the anteroom with three huge built columns, a beautiful freestanding arch and striking Aksumite “Sandwich Style” constructions (a layer of wood then a layer of stone, painted alternating in black and white). The woodwork of the door and window shutters is exquisitely decorated in geometrical patterns including swastika-like symbols. Especially the middle window shutter is decorated with a 15th century wooden painting of the Virgin Mary and the Child. The ends of the protruding part of the wooden beams are round in shape and their presence adds beauty to the church. It is also known for its wealth of paintings, which can be seen on the walls and arches of the sanctuary, if one asks the priests specifically for it (bring a torch!). The art influence, according to Pearce, is Byzantine. It can be accessed by a 9 km gravel road north east of Atsbi