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| Lalibela |
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|Description ||Lalibela, Ethiopia. the church of Bet Medhane Alem - the largest monolithic rock hewn church in the world - 33.5m long x 23.5m wide x 11.5m high, 36 pillars around the outside and another 36 on the inside. Some of of the exterior pillars have collapsed and been replaced with ones built of stone.|
There are thirteen churches at lalibela and many of these are monoliths or three quarter monoliths free of the surrounding rock on three or four sides.
Bet Medhane Alem pictured, is excavated below ground level and surrounded by a sunken courtyard.
From the 10th-13thCenturys Lalibela was known as Roha and was the capital of the Zagwe dynasty who ruled over Ethiopia at that time. The churches are attributed to the 12thCentury King Lalibela.
There are many different versions of the local legends surrounding King Lalibela and how these churches came to hewn from the rock. basically the legend says:
"Lalibela was the younger brother of the king, when he (lalibela) was a child he was covered in a swarm of bees which acted as a prophecy that one day he would be king. The king knowing of this prophecy was rather worried and also very jealous so he poisened his brother, Lalibela fell into a deep sleep and went to heaven and was given instructions to create these churches. After three days Labibela awoke; The king had a not very nice vision and abdicated from the throne, Lalibela was made King. Lalibela wasted no time and during the day he and his men set about creating the rock hewn churches and at night angels continued the work."
| That is incredible.|
Any truth in this? (Found under 'Monolithic Church' in Wikipedia)
"Spurious tales that the Lalibela churches were constructed by the Knights Templar in the 13th century were started by European explorers who did not believe that the Ethiopian civilization could have created structures of such complexity and beauty."
If so, it would seem that the same attitude might still be prevailing today....
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