8578 km from from Cape Town
ROCK HEWN CHURCHES
Woke up to the most amazing view today, looking over the valleys far below Lalibela, so high that you can watch the hawks and eagles soaring beneath you, and everywhere in the village you are surrounded by breathtaking mountain panoramas reminiscent of the drakensberg.
With only one day at hand to view the churches, we opted for a guide to show us the best sites. We set off through the village by foot, trailed by the usual street kids, and soon arrived at the historical site. We’d heard so much about the churches, but despite the buildup we were unprepared for the sheer scale of the buildings, and standing inside the quiet chambers of Biete Maryam (House of Mary), it’s almost impossible to get your head around the enormity of work required to carve them out. We sat there imagining the ringing out of thousands of chisels chipping away at the hard stone. Our guide for the day was excellent, a humble and devout man who spends most days walking around those reflective places, and when we asked him whether they carved out the insides by starting at the doors at the base, or through the tiny windows at the top, he replied that he often sits inside the churches and ponders the same problem but confesses in his humble way that the question just becomes too much for him. We were particularly impressed by Biete Giyorgis, one of the finest preserved churches.