Lalibela, perched 2630 metres high in the Lasta mountains was once the capital of most of what is now Ethiopia over 700 years ago and was the seat of power of the Zagwe Dynasty. This line of rulers are said to have brought stability to the country after a period of great unrest.
Its most fabled Emporer, Lalibela, built the amazing rock-hewn churches that still stand today in all their past splendour. Formerly known as Roha, it is where the author J.R.R Tolkien travelled after the First World War, and along with Gonder in the Western highlands, is said to have been the inspiration for the two Kingdoms of similar names in his epic Lord of the Rings. Indeed, the churches’ construction is still shrouded in mystery. It is claimed that up to 40,000 people would have been required to carve the monolithic structures into the hard mountain rock.
The amazing Orthodox services held at Easter time in April at Lalibela have to be one of the greatest spectacles on the Continent. It is difficult to escape the glaring truth that one is witnessing a scene locked in time and that remains unchanged for almost 7 centuries. Below are images of Ethiopian Easter available for licensing.
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