Holy Trinity Church (Sellassie) is at the heart of Cheleqot, a village 15km south of Mekele, the provincial capital of Tigray. The church was built in 1793, commissioned by Ras WoldeSellassie (1745 – 1816) who was at that time considered the most powerful regional ruler in Ethiopia.
It is a traditional round building, originally with a thatched roof. The murals in the church were painted by the famous Aleqa Hailu. These are extensive and of the highest quality, painted in the second Gondarine style between 1793 and 1800.
Holy Trinity Church also has a remarkable collection of treasures, including beautiful eighteenth and nineteenth century crosses and crowns and manuscripts dating back to the sixteenth century, some of which are amongst the most important in Ethiopia. There are also several objects sent by George III of England. Traveller and diplomat, Henry Salt, undertook missions to Ras WoldeSellassie in 1804 and 1809 to explore trade links. Nathanial Pearce, an English explorer accompanied Salt in 1804 and stayed until his return. Both have written diaries.
Recently, the local community has built a museum next to the church to display and store the church’s treasures. Lack of funds have meant the museum remains empty. The villagers have approached us to provide secure showcases, labels and promotional material. The village has also asked for our expertise and advice to complete this project to an appropriate standard.
We believe that Cheleqot’s proximity to Mekele and the interesting and important history of the church will be a draw to both local and international tourists. Plans to involve the community with bring revenues to the church and village.
In 2019 the university of Mekele agreed to fund and build the showcases for the museum. Our role will be improve the security wall and to help with interpretation and training.