Monday, March 30, 2015

lalibela, ethiopia - part 2:

Andrew and I spent a couple days in Lalibela soaking up the atmosphere of the upcoming Christmas celebrations, taking our time to explore the churches and mingle with the pilgrims. We were in constant awe at the devotion of those around us, with worshippers packing the churches and filling the spaces with their songs and prayers. 
It is a sight and experience we will never forget. In fact, I think that was the one of the things that really made these churches - seeing them in use rather then being static museum-like sites. They were still functioning as they had been for hundreds and hundreds of years prior, and it felt like we had been transported back in time, with nothing at all (except maybe for a few mobile phones) signifying that we were in the year 2015. 

We also took the opportunity to head out of town and visit Yemrehanna Kristos. About an hours drive from the centre of town, this small but gorgeous church was built in a cave, out of timber in the same style of the rock-hewn churches in found in Lalibela and has been sheltered from the elements. It was definitely worth the trip out, not only for the church itself, but the beautiful countryside in which we were surrounded by.

We couldn't get over what were seeing and experiencing, and it really was such a nice way to spend our last few days in Ethiopia.

next: Christmas, Ethiopian style.

Yemrehanna Kristos

Thursday, March 26, 2015

lalibela, ethiopia - part 1:

Lalibela is probably the most famous of areas to visit in Ethiopia and was our last stop in our epic adventure. One of the main reasons we left it to the end of our trip was to experience Genna - aka Ethiopian Christmas. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which the majority of Ethiopians belong to, celebrates Christmas on January 7 and Lalibela is the place to be for the celebrations.

Lalibela is famed for its rock-hewn churches, which were the vision of King Lalibela in the 12th century, where he wanted to build a new Jerusalem. Ethiopia has a very long religious history, being the second oldest Christian nation in the world. The complex of churches in Lalibela numbers at eleven, which are still in use today as sacred houses of worship. Each church was carved out of incredibly hard granite stone and are truly amazing structures which are right up there with other ancient sites we have visited such as Petra in Jordan and the Pyramids of Egypt. They are an impressive sight and had my mind completely boggled as I tried to imagine how they were created.

At Christmas time, thousands upon thousands of pilgrims from all around Ethiopia make their way to Lalibela for the holiday, and many by foot. It was a very special experience as the the whole town was abuzz with such atmosphere, and a great way to wrap up our trip.

next: more form Lalibela and the Christmas celebrations.

a priest

inside one of the churches

the church of st. george

deacons and priests chanting on christmas eve

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