BETA MEDHANE ALEM, THE CHURCH OF THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD
Petit Futé's opinion on BETA MEDHANE ALEM, THE CHURCH OF THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD
This church, which is the most accessible and the largest of the religious complex, with its dimensions of 33,5 m per 23,5 m and 11 m high, is in a grave more than 40 m long, giving an idea of the enormous work undertaken to achieve it. It is from here, from the top of the excavation, that we have to imagine the creusement of the trenches in this mixture of volcanic and sedimentary stones, which bring up a colossal block, while at the same time respecting an essential difference in the flow of water. At long last, the minéral minéral dégage the sanctuary. A-pillar portico distorts the building and reduces the structure; from openings, doors and windows, the stone cutters infiltrate to release the naves, the pillars, the vaults. No mistake is allowed and the unique monolith of the whole, simply troubled by the reconstruction of certain stone blocks by a Italian'restoration'campaign, proves the correctness of the calculations of the architects of the time.
The interior, which appears to be much smaller due to wall thickness (2 m), reveals a basilical plan to five naves, including the one in the middle, higher than the others, is surmounted by a cradle vault. The maqdas, or saint of the saints, is raised from a foundation to three degrees; on the left, three caves discovered symbolize the tombs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The whole is supported by 24 pillars, without base or capitals, which, with those of the outside peristyle, symboliseraient the 72 apostles. The building is virgin of all ornamentation and only windows, whose very diverse grounds are a constant of the churches of Lalibela, bring a decorative touch to the whole. Unfortunately, the double-edged roof has suffered damage due to erosion and is now covered with sheet protection, pending UNESCO's project to replace it with a large transparent panel. For some experts, Medhane Alem could be a copy of the original church of Sainte-Marie from Sion to Aksum, built in the century and then destroyed at the time of the city invasions.
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