Sept. 23, 2018: Lalibela—Ethiopia’s Jerusalem

 

Lalibela will most probably instill a real fascination (especially if you are discovering Ethiopia’s Jerusalem for the first time)… because the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela probably belong to some of the most magnificent and breathtaking religious monuments you will see in your lifetime, and definitely the most unexpected ones. Fascination also, if you have the privilege to discover Lalibela over (Orthodox) Easter, when pilgrim congregate in Lalibela for a 3 day fasting marathon… A moment of rare devotion and spirituality!

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Definitely the highlight of a trip to Ethiopia, and one of the highlights of all my trips, the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela cannot leave one untouched… For me this was an unforgettable image: standing in this huge ditch in front of an ancient church…

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Legend says that King Lalibela returned from Jerusalem with the order to build a second Jerusalem. And so he did! Churches, as high as three-story-buildings, were hewn deep into the reddish colored rock, connected by short tunnels. Little cave-like chapels were carved into the walls. Is there a better place to worship?

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How long did it all take him? Exactly 23 years! Not a day more or less... Not bad for the 12th Century! But please note: the worldly laborers were supported by the angels to speed up this work. Upon looking at this out-worldly architecture, even the most skeptical person may come to think: sure, why not?

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