posted on Dec, 12 2012 @ 06:23 AM
I saw a few old threads about these but they were nearly a decade old, so I thought to bring up the subject again.
It all starts with King Lalibela and his vision of a new Jerusalem. His dream of an equaly spiritual and architectural city as Jerusalem led to an
astonishing complex of 11 hewn churches in the reddish volcanic scoria rock of Ethiopia. Thou the amount of 11 churches they all represent a unique
There are two main groups of churches – to the north of the river Jordan: 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); and to the
south of the river, Biete Amanuel (House of Emmanuel), Biete Qeddus Mercoreus (House of St. Mercoreos), Biete Abba Libanos (House of Abbot Libanos),
Biete Gabriel Raphael (House of Gabriel Raphael), and Biete Lehem (House of Holy Bread). The eleventh church, Biete Ghiorgis (House of St. George), is
isolated from the others, but connected by a system of trenches.
Lalibela lived to see his legacy completed and died at the age of 96, buried in one of his churches Beta Mikael. Later on the town/city of Roha became
to be known as Lalibela.
The mystery of the churces lie in the legend of the creation. According to it, angels helped during the night supervised by St. George. It is said
that the hoofprints of St. George’s horse are left by the passage of the church named by him, Beta Gyorgis. It was the last church to be built and
the most extraordinary one. It is cross-shaped and carved with hammers and chisels out of a single scoria block. The last fact applies to the rest of
the churches as well, so no wonder there was need for ’celestial help’.
All of the churches have roofs at ground level and are carved 40 feet deep underground.
The seven churches are organically embedded in the rock and four are self-standing, with well-defined geometrical volumes. Among these is the
world’s largest monolithic rock-hewn building, Medhane Alem, with 72 pillars and five naves.
The whole place is filled with underground passages, tunnels, causeways, steps and cavities. Some of them so narrow and dark that they are almost
impossible to walk through.
The churches were not constructed in a traditional way but rather were hewn from the living rock of monolithic blocks. These blocks were further
chiselled out, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, roofs etc. This gigantic work was further completed with an extensive system of
drainage ditches, trenches and ceremonial passages, some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs.
The drainage system has been damaged by earthquakes which has resulted in severe damage of the monuments.
…and most of them are now considered to be in a critical condition.
Yet another purely amazing place on our planet. My eyes caught a resemblance to pre-Columbian building styles but then again, my eyesight is