What an interesting day. We left at 09h00 and after a short Tuk Tuk ride we arrived at the first cluster of churches. The churches were all constructed by King Lalibela in the 13th century. Nothing can prepare you for the scale of the excavations and the size of the first church Bete Medhene Alem 33.5 meters long and 23.5 meters wide and 10 meters high. This church suffered some damage in an earthquake about 500 years ago but has since been repaired. The churches are either monolithic (you can walk around all four sides) or semi monolithic (either a wall or roof are part of the rock structure). There are 11 churches divided into 3 groups. The churches within a cluster are linked by a system of passages and tunnels. All our photographs of the interiors were taken in near darkness due to small windows and limited interior lighting.
Most of the churches have columns supporting the roof with detailed carvings and in one case paintings (Bete Mariam). The doors and doorways are also fascinating. The exterior of the churches show little wear and the horizontal and vertical lines are clear to see.
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