Friday, January 31, 2014

Orthodox Church

A quartet of us visited a World Heritage site here in Gondar: the Royal enclosure of King Fasilides. It is in the centre of town, a walled compound within which are centuries-old stone structures built for a succession of kings. The Ethiopian tour guide association provides well-trained guides and we hired one, Enoch, who ushered us around the various buildings. He explained the various purposes for each structure; there was a concert venue and a sauna among the lot.

Brian had a guide book that augmented what the guide shared with us. Having spent a lot of time here over the years, Brian's perspective is helpful to many cyclists. 
Next on the itinerary, after a sumptuous local meal, was a trip to the Debre Birhan Selassie church. It was opened by the attending priest who invited us to kiss the cross. Within the church, there are painted walls with religious iconography. The narrative of mother Mary is represented as well as portraits of the Trinity. 

We were asked not to use a flash within the dark chamber of this church. A concerted effort is made to  conserve the painting on the walls. Many Ethiopians are protective of this religious tradition. Crucifixes are often large wooden pendants and some women have the cross tattooed on their foreheads.

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