Tour of Fall 2014. Photo-report, part 3 – Lalibela, Tana, Gondar

Time: 15.09.2014-30.09.2014
Location: Northern and Southern Ethiopia

Holiday of Meskel in Lalibela, Reculsion of the Tana lake and Emperor’s Palaces of Gondar

1. So we left the Danakil desert to the center of the Ethiopian Christian world, Lalibela.  During our visit, one of the biggest, most vivid and colorful Christian holidays in Ethiopia, Meskel (holiday of the True Cross discovery) was taking place. On that day, large-scale celebrations and prayers are taking place all over Ethiopia, but Lalibela being the ex-capital and the center of the Christian life is the perfect place for watching the celebrations. We began this day long before the sunrise when bright torches and bonfires began to pierce the darkness of the city streets to commemorate Helena who had lit the torch in Jerusalem after discovery of the Cross.


2. Everyone had his own little torch that was lit from the big bonfire.




4. People with torches and candles were walking down the streets looking like fireflies. Meanwhile, we were waiting for the sunrise and beginning of the service in Lalibela Cross Church.


5. The prettiest of us were also given the candle.


6. When the sun rose, I wanted to walk down to the church of George the Victorious, the best preserved of the eleven rock-carved Lalibela churches.


7. One can see its walls from the cliff:


8. Realizing how impregnable it was in the Middle Ages.


9. This kes gave each of us a flower on the occasion of the holiday.






12. The main holiday service started.


13. Meanwhile, nature was distracting us by being beautiful.


13. After the morning prayer everybody who gathered in the Lalibela Temple went to the square for the lighting of the central torch.


14. Keses, deacons and the people all participated in the festivities around the bonfire 🙂


15. After Lalibela our way lied to Bahar-Dar, to the Tana lake. Having rented a boat, we began our travel between the island of the gigantic lake. Here, on these islands, there are few tens of reclusive (and not very much so) monasteries, one of the Ethiopian oldest and surely unbelievably interesting. Here, in the monks’ cells the antique manuscripts and icons are kept, the walls of the churches are decorated with amazing murals (always made on fabric, according to the Ethiopian tradition).


16. Kes of the Barta Mariam church.


17. This is Azua Mariam.


18. The next morning we made our way to Gondar, but on the way we stop by the Blue Nile waterfalls. Four rainbows gracefully skirted several waterfalls. What luck!


19. Sunrises on the Ethiopian north is an amazing view, I would even say, a rather mystical one.


20. Here is Gondar, the former great capital of the Emperors of Ethiopia, and now – the UNESCO site. Here we were strolling under the domes of the Emperor’s palaces, learning the details of architecture and poetry of the old days.


21. To my mind, Gondar would not be that interesting and fascinating if not for the church of Debre Birhan Selasi with its amazing and well preserved murals. This is the ceiling, for example.


Afterwards we got on the plane and left to Addis Ababa. There we had few hours for a  visit the Italian quarter, the Merkato market and, of course, for the festive dinner in the traditional restaurant. There we were able to, for the third time since the start of the tour, practice our Eskista dance moves.

That night our tour was over, but the emotions and impressions remained. Thanks again to my great Ethiopian team for the professional work, and to all the participants, for the great attitude and tons of fun. I will be happy to see you over and over again, either in Ethiopia or anywhere in the world. Thank you everyone and so long!

Published on 25.10.2014 in Travel Diaries

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