Bahir Dar which is located on the southern shores of Lake Tana, with its ancient island monasteries and both the Blue and the White Nile’s most spectacular feature, the Tis Isat falls(the smoking fire). The 37 islands that are scattered about the surface of the Lake shelter fascinating churches and monastries, some of which have histories dating back to the 13th Century and were founded much earlier and may even have been the site of pre-Christian shrines. However, it should be noted that most of the religious houses are not open to women. The most interesting islands are: Birgida Mariam, Dega Estefanous, Dek, Narga, Tana Cherkos, Mitsele Fasiledes, Kebran and Debre Maryam
The most notable monasteries are
Kebran Gabriel (not allowed for women) is one of the most beautiful and atmospheric monasteries, which dates from the 17th c. It features a 52 columned portico and good paintings on the Maqdas.
Ura kidanmehert: is the Zege peninsula’s most famous monastery and it’s maqdas is very beautifully painted. A compendium of Ethiopian religious iconography, it holds an important collection of 16th -18th century cross and crowns.
Narga Sellasie:- is the Dek peninsula, sat in the middle of the lake is peaceful, and atmospheric
Azwa mariam: – found in the Zege peninsula is the 14th century church and the paintings are worth visiting.
Dega Estephanos (closed to women) is on an island in the lake, and is reached by a very steep and winding path. Although the church is relatively new (only one hundred years old), it houses a Madonna painted in the 15th century. However, the treasury of the monastery is a prime attraction with the remains of several emperors, as well as their robes and jewels.
Near Gorgora, at the northern end of the lake, the Susneyos palace is a forerunner of the magnificent palaces and castles of Gonder, and dates from the reign of Emperor Susneyos. In the same area the medieval church of Debre Sina Mariam is particularly important.