Sunday, April 06, 2008

Lalibela, Ethiopia

bet medhane allem

It was so nice to get off the bus routine today.

It was Good Friday today. So, I picked a fine time to be here. The churches were packed and buzzing with devotees.

These churches, 2 clusters within Lalibela, were unlike any churches that I have ever seen. They are carved underground. They were huge, with some as high as 10 metres, surrounded by trenches and courtyards.

The above church is bet emanuel. The outer walls (to the right) of the trenches were pockmarked with hermit cells and bone-filled tombs.

The volume of rock excavated to create these structures must have been biblical in proportions...

Within each cluster churches were connected to the others by tunnels and trenches to form a pretty impressive complex.

it was fun scurrying around the trenches...

The Lalibela churches have been around for at least 800 years and in those years have been subject to erosion. Unfortunately, the solution to the problem has been to erect a lot of scaffolding and construct ugly corrugated metal roofs over some the churches. Not eye pleasing, eh?

interior details...keeping in mind the whole structure is a monolith.

JHC or a lowly saint?

Anywhere else in the world these ancient churches would have been monuments, but in Lalibela, they remain as active religious centres in the community. There are still hermits in holes-in-the-wall, and other ascetics chanting daily in the hallowed halls of the churches. But, because it's the Easter holiday, the churches were filled with white clad worshippers today.

the pulpit... you're looking at orthodox christianity so sermon's done singin' style...

i was surprised part of the worship rituals entailed prostrations. reminded me of a similar practice in tibetan buddhism. fascinating...

standing room only...
Out of Canuckistan: A travel blog, Apr 6/07
Buy Bubba a Beer Now!

No comments: