Lalibela and the Rock-Hewn Churches

Trip Start Oct 11, 2012
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Trip End Nov 19, 2012


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Where I stayed
What I did
Biete Ghiorgis (House of St. George)
Biete Denagel (House of Virgins), Biete Golgotha Mikael (House of Golgotha Mikael)
Biete Medhani Alem (House of the Saviour of the World), Biete Mariam (House of Mary), Biete Maskal (House of the Cross)

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Monday, November 5, 2012


We got up around 6 am and flew to Lalibela.  The flight was the usual pain with security et al.  There was some confusion as to which gate and when.  We stood by the door and two very tall, large women (German I think) butted into our line.  Sian marshaled her forces - Leigh - and they maneuvered in front of them, but our other people standing in line were pushed aside by the other non-Exodus tourists.  There was some discussion about the British art of "queuing" that is not as assiduously followed by other nationalities.  I know I find this pushing in front of a line quite impolite....and disturbing...but as Sian noted, one must rise above it.

Once we checked into our hotel, we had lunch and a bit of a rest and then left to visit the Northern set of churches:  Biete Medhani Alem  (House of the Saviour of the World), Biete  Mariam
(House of Mary), Biete  Maskal (House of the Cross), Biete Denagel
(House of Virgins), Biete Golgotha Mikael (House of Golgotha Mikael).  They are aligned in a cross shape as Kibrom drew in the sand.  Then we visited the monolithic St George's - 6 churches in all.  We were all impressed by the churches carved out of rock - some free-standing, some partly in the rock, but what I liked best were the priests exhibiting their various hand and processional crosses and in one case we got to see an old manuscript with its vibrant colors intact. 

As impressive as these churches definitely were, I realized that my mind had created an expectation for Lalibela and its rock-carved churches.  I had expected a cliff side on a mountain covered with scrubby trees with a narrow path winding down the cliff along which we would travel on mules - frightened out of our minds if we looked to our side to see the sheer drop of 100's of meters.  The rock churches would be cut into the cliff side and only accessible by the perilous mule ride.  Not quite like the church accessible only by a 15 meter rope hanging down the cliff that we saw on the museum video, but close!  I now have to train my vision to reality.

Everyone was dissatisfied with the hotel restaurant selection and prices so we walked into town - or rather down the road - it was a rather touristy road - to another restaurant with Kibrom and had dinner there.  I think at least one other tourist group came in but this restaurant had a more authentic Ethiopian feel to it.  I can't remember any more from this day and my notes end here so this will be it.  I was suffering from the cold, so my standards were not up to par.

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