Bottom view of San George Church, Lalibela, Ethiopia.

43 votes
Prise le 16/08/2009
The monolithic Bet Giorgis - dedicated to the national saint of Ethiopia is isolated from the other two groups of churches. It is located in the southwest of the village on a sloping rock terrace. In its deep pit with perpendicular walls it can only be reached through a tunnel which is entered from some distance away through a trench. Small round caves and chambers have been found in the walls of the courtyard graves for pious pilgrims and monks.

The church is described as Lalibela's "most elegant" and "refined" in its architecture and stonemasonry. Although its floor plan is of a cross with nearly equal arms the church is properly orientated, the main entrance being in the west, the holy of holies in the east.

Like a tower the cruciform church cut out of the pink tuff rises from its triple-stepped platform, the regularity of which is broken only by the landings in front of the three doorways in the west, north and south. The roof decoration, often represented as the symbol of the Lalibela monuments on photographs and postcards, is a relief of three equilateral Greek crosses inside each other. On the north, south and west sides, gutters and spouts drain the water from the roof.

One of the more sophisticated details of Bet Giorgis is that the wall thickness increases step by step downwards but that the increase is cleverly hidden by the horizontal bands of mouldings on the exterior walls.

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Latitude: 39° 2' 43" N, Longitude: 12° 1' 53" E see »

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