Friday, 30 May 2014

Church Of St George (Bete Giorgis), Lalibela, Ethiopia

The most famous of the rock-carved churches in Lalibela is the church of St George. It's easy to see why the church rises to the top. St George is off by itself and features a beautiful, perfect cross as its roof.

Carved from one piece of rock? Yup. Done in the 12th century? Yup. Amazing feat? Double yup.

The church.

A couple of views from above. People for scale.

Patina detail.

St George from below and a peek inside. The church is two stories. Yes, all carved out of a single rock!

A corner at the base. Impressive.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Inside The Churches At Lalibela

When you carve a church out of solid rock, there's not a lot of room for huge, soaring windows. The interior spaces of the Lalibela churches are mostly dark and a bit cramped, to be expected with solid rock walls and the need to support heavy roofs.

There is still room for altars and some religious ornamentation. The works need to adjust to the spaces provided.

Young priest on duty.

More looks at Lalibela church interiors.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Rock Hewn Churches Of Lalibela

One of the most amazing sites in Ethiopia is the 11 churches carved into the rock hillside of Lalibela. They're closer to giant sculptures than constructed churches, a huge endeavor of chiseling madness.

The churches date to the 12th century when King Lalibela decided he needed a "New Jerusalem." It's now, naturally, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The entrance to one of the churches. Pavilions have been constructed over several of the churches to protect them from the elements.

Taking a step inside. The churches are still active and priests are happy to show you around.

Another church.

A window detail shows a standard Ethiopian architectural design. Trenches connect many of the churches, a rough contrast to the refinement of the buildings.

Morning prayers.

More details, showing the variety of design.

One of the bigger churches, two stories tall. Yes, carved out of one piece of stone and including a multi-story floor plan.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Church Of Our Lady Mary Zion In Axum, Ethiopia

The most important church in Ethiopia is located in the town of Axum. Why so important? Some little artifact called the Arc of the Covenant is said to be housed on the grounds.

There have been at least four churches built at the site, some still standing; some archeological digs. The most recent church is a modern design, built in the 1950s. It features a pleasing dome design with an airy interior.

Come on in.

Interesting items could be found tucked in the corners of the church. Artifacts, furniture, relics, a religious jumble of stuff.

Flowers and chairs, why not?

Two more corners, two more collections of church items.

The Arc of the Covenant? You think anyone gets to see it? James was chased away for simply snapping this photograph of the exterior of the building that houses the Arc. You gotta go on faith.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Ethiopian Eucalyptus Haulers

Eucalyptus was brought to Ethiopia from Australia in the late 1800s as a cheap form of wood. It's been wildly successful, now used for building simple housing and for firewood. It's a thirsty plant that ruins soil and Ethiopia may try to replace it with friendlier, native species.

For now, it's a key raw material for many Ethiopians. And who hauls it around? The usual developing country hard laborer, women.

A typical eucalyptus forest.

And a typical bundle, ready for hauling.

Young recruit.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Ethnological Museum, Addis Ababa

There's a nice ethnological museum in Ethiopia's capital of Addis Ababa, housed in the former palace of Emperor Halle Selassie. It's a grab bag of ethno-history, a peek at Selassie's private quarters in the palace, and art, both old and recent.

Plenty of cases filled with traditional dress and objects.

The private quarters are interesting, a closet-sized safe in his bedroom, and baby blue for the royal bathroom.

Paintings of the royal family are scattered around the museum, alongside clothes they wore.

More rooms, more relics.

Fair warning.

Friday, 16 May 2014

A Bus By Land, A Boat By Sea In Ethiopia

January was high tourist season in Ethiopia and buses crowded the popular sights. Sometimes a little boat was needed to get you where you were going. By land or sea, something worth photographing.

Tour guide among buses at a lunch place.

Local bus stop. Stopping in a field. 

Waiting for the ferry.

You were expecting something bigger? Laundry in the river.

Laundry on the hill.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Stopping At Yeha, Ethiopia

Yeha is a tiny town past Adwa in northern Ethiopia, about a 45 minute drive from Axum. There's not much there except for the Temple of Yeha, Ethiopia's oldest structure. It's a roofless ruin at the moment, but restoration is underway. The temple dates to 700 BC.

Come on in.

Once inside, check out the drainage system and the layout of the temple. An altar, baths, there's a full arrangement to see.

The temple was re-dedicated as a church in 600 AD and there are graves scattered about the property.

There's also a church museum next door, filled with old artifacts.

And a nice gentleman there to show you the good book.