The south-east cluster of churches at Lalibela is the most random; hap-hazard in design. Unlike the north-west group, which all appear conceived as a whole, some of the structures here are thought to have originally been secular in origin, and even pre-date King Lalibela.

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Once thought to be a palace, Bet Gebriel-Rafael is surrounded by a rock trench about 5m deep, like a dry moat, giving it a fortress-like apperance.

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The only approach to Bet Gebriel-Rafael.

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LEFT: from cave tunnel, looking down to Bet Gebriel-Rafael trench; RIGHT: one of many trenches and tunnels amid the cluster

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A trench surrounding much of the cluster. Note: small tunnels that enter in to some compounds. The wet-season really brings out the colors of the moss and rocks. This is not the case, with the roof-covered churches, though.

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Local worshippers amid Bet Emanuel. “It is a 12m-high monolith – the only church of this type
in the southeast cluster – and it is considered by art historians to be the finest and most precisely worked church in Lalibela, possibly because it was the private church of the royal family. “

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Outside Bet Abba Libanos …

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Bet Abba Libanos … the reality of the Euro-funded rain protection roofs. A War of the Worlds-like tripod legs imposing on the beauty.