April 23, 2024

Lalibela Steeped in rich history

This morning we went hotel shopping and found another great place to stay in Lalibela for a third of the price we paid for our room at the Seven Olives Guesthouse last night. The Asheten Hotel is just around the corner of where the action is and the rooms are very comfortable and clean. Every little bit helps :o) and the saving enabled us to get a guide to show us the rock-hewn churches in Lalibela in the afternoon.

The ticket price to visit all 11 churches and valid for 4 days was Birr 350 per person (roughly divide by two to get the amount in Rands). We only had time to do the two clusters of churches and there is one more cluster which we will do on our own tomorrow morning, but our guide Zewdu Melak (a young tourist guide) gave us a very good in-depth history around the churches which we enjoyed very much. It is incredible to see the churches hand carved out of a massive solid piece of rock, some standing totally alone and others joined on some sides with the rock.

In 1166, King Lalibela started the carving of the churches and the legend is that he claimed to have finished the churches all by himself and in the evening the angels continued his work while he rested. But historians say that 8 000 Egyptians were commissioned to do the work and it took them only 23 years to complete all the churches. Amazing!

Our first view of the church:

First view of the church

The first church outside:

Lalibela church one outside
Shoes stay outside the church:

Shoes stay outside
The beautiful St. Georges Church:

Carved out St Georges Church
Adam’s tomb:

The tomb of Adam
The beautiful roof at St. Mary’s Church:

Roof at St Mary church

Beautiful windows:

Beautiful windows
Another interesting story is that of the cross of Lalibela which was said to have been stolen by one of the priests who worked there in 1997 and it ended up in the hands of the Belgians. The church then had to buy back the cross from the Belgians for USD 20 000 before it was returned to its rightful place. Here is a photo of the cross of Lalibela – the real McCoy!

Cross of Lalibela
Today the churches are still used by locals and each church has its own priest and they get paid a salary from the money that is collected through selling tickets. The rest of the money goes to the tourism office, which I also found out own three hotels in Lalibela – an interesting concept! We also visited the Lalibela Museum which houses some very old paintings, holy books, clothing and other things. The guide there was very knowledgeable and he is studying to become a priest one day.

During our walk we got some heavy rains, but luckily it didn’t last long. It is very cold here in the mountains and finally I am appreciating my thick jacket and woolen hat that I have been dragging all across Africa. Tomorrow we will go back to the churches for some more photos and will include a visit to the last cluster of churches we still need to see. We still haven’t managed to find a quick enough Internet connection that will allow us to upload our photos so unfortunately you will have to wait some more, but we promise to show them all!

PS: Happy 30th birthday to our friend, Eon! We wish we could be home to celebrate with you today! May you have an awesome 30th!!

6 thoughts on “Lalibela Steeped in rich history

  1. Ons het die klipgooiery ook op die selfde plek beleef as julle. Dit was vreemd, want mens het ‘n eienaardige “vibe” gekry van die mense in daardie area. Die res van Ethiopie is fine. Beplan jul steeds om nie via Aksum te gaan nie? Dit sal jammer wees, want die berge naby Aksum en pad deur die Semien Berge terug na Gonder was ongelooflik!!

  2. Sjoe, dit klink interessant. Ons het ook vandag in die berge rondgeklouter – Badaling Groot Muur! Beleef ook maar in Beijing situasies wat jou laat besef jy moenie TE mak raak nie. xxxxx

  3. Hi julle! Ekt nou eers die laaste 4 dae se blogposts opgevang. Ai, eks jammer om te hoor oor die klipgooiery! 🙁 Ek hoop nie dit bederf al die ander lekker nie… Dis darem maar n helemal anderste wereld daar bo – so anders as dit waaraan ons hier in SA gewoond is. Hou moed en gees – gelukkig is daar altyd ander mense wat n mens weer hoop gee! Ek dink aan julle en mis julle altwee VREESLIK baie!!! Kan nie wag om julle in Des te sien nie! Veilig toer! Luv, V

  4. Dankie, Tania, vir jou interessante storie oor die kerke; jou toerisme-agtergrond saam met Francois se meganiese en syfervaardighede is die ideale kombinasie – ek sien hier kom ‘n ding wanneer julle terug is! Sit boetie, Villiers, se ‘skills’ daarby en julle raak ‘n gedugte span. My bloed tintel van afwagting! XXX

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