A boy walks past the entrance to the new Church of St. Mary of Zion (Maryam Tsion), in the compound of the old church (which women are not allowed in). The new church is a Haile Selassie I foundation, and reflects the Emperor’s (one might say questionable) taste for modernist building. The St. Mary of Zion church compound is the holiest in Ethiopia, as the chapel which is supposed to hold the true Ark of the Covenant lies between the new church and the old.
This is my preliminary mockup of a 20-image panoramic of Bet Ammanuel Maako church and its environs, from my recent trip to Negash. I don’t have enough memory or processing power to work on the full version out here in the field, but click through to the flickr page and select “all sizes” to see a much larger image (which still only represents 10% of the full-size image).
It is not unusual to see Ethiopian churches built in highly-inaccessible places; in fact, it is considered quite appropriate. Accordingly, I walked from where I shot this over three ridges and through two valleys, to get to the hill of the church, only to find, upon my arrival, an easy road which diverged from the highway only 100M from where I had begun my laborious journey. At least the walk back was easy. . .
Lalibela, envisioned as a second, African, Jerusalem, is a pilgrimage site in Ethiopia, site of churches cut out of the living rock, and home to a great multitude of priests and deacons, who manage the churches, conduct services, and give tours.
This priest is showing off processional crosses from the treasury of his church.
A sun beam coming through a small window illuminates the interior of Bete Golgotha Church.
Sometimes lumped together with its sister church, Bete Debre Sina into the same unit, called Bete Kidus Mikael, Bete Golgotha is meant to evoke its biblical namesake. Inside, in addition to several bas-relief figures and a symbolic tomb of Christ (obscured by curtains), a narrow passageway connects to Trinity chapel, a place so sacred that it is even off-limits to most Lalibela priests.