Monday, January 23, 2012
Lalibela was our most memorable destination and the highlight of our trip, other than meeting Tizita of course. Simply arriving in Lalibela was a treat.
The road coming into the town twists and curves up and down hills and valleys. Cliffs are scattered with homes and buildings and there are livestock and people walking everywhere.
Tourists travel to Lalibela primarily to see the rock-hewn churches. The 13 churches were made during the reign of King Lalibela in the 13th century. The churches were not built but rather carved out of stone. It took a true visionary to look at a huge section of bare bed rock and say, "let's turn this into a three story, elaborately decorated place of worship. Pick up your rock chippers guys and let's get carving."
The churches are, in my opinion, one of the great wonders of the world. They are every bit as impressive as the pyramids of Egypt. Not that I've ever seen the pyramids but I have a good imagination.
This is the view from the top of the Church of Saint George. It may be difficult to see the perspective here but these things are huge! You can see people in the shadows standing at the base of the church to get an idea of the size.
Here's the view from the base of Saint George looking up. This structure was the last one in the series to be carved and the most elaborate of all the churches.
Again check out the tiny people in the shadows to get a little perspective of size.
Inside there were columns, staircases, relief artwork, various rooms all carved out of solid bedrock. We were in awe.
The churches are connected by a series of tunnels and walk ways. This tunnel was long and completely dark for most of the way. We had to put one had on the person in front of us and the other on the wall to stay oriented.
Notice that Harold is barefoot. Any time we entered a church we took our shoes off as a sign of respect for the Holy place. Our tour lasted all day and we were able to visit all 13 churches.
For dinner we headed out to, Ben Abeba, a one of a kind restaurant still new to Lalibela. Frank Gehry eat your heart out man.
We arrived just before sunset to catch these spectacular sights.
We had a very nice dinner for about $15. The business is a collaboration between a Scottish woman and a man from Lalibela. The menu is small and a bit odd but surprisingly delicious. The very simple food was just right for those of us prone to "traveler's" stomach.