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The Lalibela Churches

The town and churches are named after an early thirteenth century king called Lalibela, which means the bees recognize his sovereignty for he was supposedly surrounded by them and at his birth. lalibela was part of a dynasty which traced its origins back to the kings of Israel. One day the king was given a vision of Jerusalem and inspired to build a New Jerusalem as his capital. This was quite possibly in response to news of the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin in eleven eighty seven. King lalibela immediately set about making plans to build his new Jerusalem. He was determined that the town of Roha would become a city worthy of the name Jerusalem to stand the test of time. he began by renaming aspects of the town's to reflect biblical names the river which ran through became the river Jordan and crossed this new Jerusalem sprang a total of thirteen churches. According to legend these buildings sprang up remarkably quickly with men working on them during the day. And night shift work by angels who naturally work twice as fast.

Possibly the largest monolithic church in the world, its style is believed to have been inspired by Saint Mary of Zion church in the nearby city of Axum. And it currently serves as the home of one of Ethiopia’s most precious religious and historical alum Lalibela cross, bet medhanialem forms part of a complex along with bet Mariam; Mary’s church and bet golgota the church of golgota. Mary’s church is possibly the oldest of all the structures in Lalibela within the church is beautifully designed covered in ornate geometric designs incredibly vibrant colors. The church of golgota is set to contain the tomb of king learned a lot in cells, along with the Selassie chapel, supposed father of the world. Next we take a look at the western groups and bet deal Georgis, church of Saint George. This cross shaped building has been called the eighth wonder of the world. It is the best preserved and probably the last to be built at the Lalibela churches. carved from solid red volcanic rocks is the striking structure sunk into the hillside once again craftsmanship is of the highest standard with beautiful details such as hair or a window, and of course within the church of saint George there are in fact images.

Finally we look to the eastern group and bet Emmanuel, the church of God is with us. The architecture of this church distinctive carved from one rock. It shares many features with other buildings in this part of Africa. Nearby is best Merkorios, partially collapsed in the earthquake possibly a former prison and ironically supposed to represent paradise. Next, bet Aba Libanos, house of the Holy Father carved from sub surface rock face can still be seen above. And finally, bet Gabriel Rufael church of Gabriel and Rufael.this church was possibly form of oil pallets and is linked to a holy bakery. All these magnificent buildings raise the question how did king Lalibela constructed them in the forty year reign? One can see why such a feat is said to have been helped along by angels, however might be another explanation as to how the town of Lalibela Taylor gained its fabulous churches. It has been noted that the architectural style represented here at the monastery of Debredamo is replicated in at least two of the churches in Lalibela. This style has its origins in the sixth century is said to have inspired work at Lalibela and be completed after the king's death.

However recent research throws out this hypothesis and suggests instead that the churches of the Merkorios, Gabriel and Rufael was built up to five hundred years earlier by the Axumite kingdom.  in the last days of Axum's power IT has been suggested that the eastern buildings at Lalibela were constructed as fortifications and palace structures for officials. These structures inspired by a broader architectural heritage may well have inspired the work at Lalibela to begin and explain how the king can be said to complete them himself. There is also the suggestion by local historian bet Aba Libanos was built after the king's reign. The king's widowed queen is credited with building Aba Libanos as a memorial in the wake of her husband's death. This theory stretches the time line further and enable some buildings have been built before.  Debate and research continues but whatever the case may be one thing is certain; the churches at Lalibela were not constructed by Templar knights or aliens for that matter. What they were and are however are remarkable feats of engineering and architecture, they are home to stunning works about more than six hundred years old, and thus rightly or focus of national pride pageantry.


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