Church of Saint George (Bete Giyorgis) in Lalibela

Submission by Daniel Mulugeta

Church of Saint George (Bete Giyorgis) in Lalibela

The Church of Saint George (Bete Giyorgis) in Lalibela is my favourite building in Africa. I believe the St. George church of Lalibela is a sublime expression of African architectural creativity. Unlike the conventional buildings constructed from the ground up, the church is hewn from the top-down as a single piece of monolithic rock. Its roof is level with the surrounding ground surface. Most prominently, the roof contains interlocking crosses in relief, underscoring the sacred shape of the church. The walls and windows are decorated with intricate carvings and cross motifs of exquisite detail. The church ground is accessible via a descending trench and labyrinthine tunnels. The ineffable beauty of the physical structure of the St. George church is woven with legend and myth. Legend claims that the St. George, like other Lalibela churches, was built by men by day and angels by night. Constructed in the 12th century AD, the church is not just an architectural marvel and a relic full of artefacts that carry traditions of the past but also an active place of pilgrimage, worship and culture.


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