Fancy Old Buildings

Maybe I’m searching wrong, but I can’t find anything about fancy old buildings built in Africa, like giant churches and state buildings plastered everywhere from Europe. I tried looking for specific countries but still nothing. Surely they’re not all destroyed?


Well, if you’re searching for “Africa”…then yeah, you’re probably searching wrong? I mean, I’ll act like stating the obvious isn’t necessary…? Because…?


This is so general, I don’t know quite how to answer you but I’ll do my best, I suppose.

You probably need to be much more specific. Basically you want the equivalent of European Medieval-y type castle buildings? They’re pretty much all over the place…


^ That one is The Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia.

Here’s a gallery of some of the Old Town buildings of Djenné (Mali):



Fasilides Palace in Ethiopia:


For fancy Christian churches with painted interiors, try searching “Copt” or “Coptic” (these are Zagwe dynasty, I believe):


Here’s Saint George’s Church in Addis Abeba:


And Bete Giorgis in Lalibela, Ethiopia:


I mean, there’s no order to this, I’m just throwing stuff out there at random. If you want, there’s a Wikipedia page for World Heritage Sites in Africa here. There’s another Wikipedia page for Architecture of Africa here.

     If this so-called Negro would channel his wealth into business enterprises and create employment or create businesses that would provide employment then our problem would be solved. But as a rule, in most Negro communities across the country the only thing you’ll find Negroes building are Negro churches. An example: In Long Island the white man bought a city block. He built a huge supermarket on it. It creates job opportunities for about three or four hundred people. Now in the next block, believe it or not, the Negroes got together and bought it and built a million dollar church. Now here this church provides a job only for the preacher; it provides clothing and shelter only for this Negro preacher. Now if this Negro preacher has the ingenuity that it takes to raise a million dollars or to finance a million dollar project, but the only thing he can finance is a church, it’s a problem. If you notice, white people in their neighborhoods build factories, they build schools, they build everything, and then they also build churches. But the Negro leadership, especially the religious leadership, has actually committed a crime almost in encouraging our people to build churches. But at the same time we never build schools; we never build factories; we never build businesses; we never build housing and things that will solve our problem.

Uncovering the Rock Churches of Lalibela in Northern Ethiopia

To view more photos and videos of the rock churches of northern Ethiopia, browse the #Lalibela hashtag and location page.

Nine hundred years ago, workers set out to construct a new holy city in the northern highlands of Ethiopia. Instead of building from the ground up, they began chiseling down into the red volcanic rock. Believed to be built with the assistance of angels working through the night, the 11 rock-hewn churches of Lalibela were carved into giant blocks of sandstone and connected through a series of tunnels, ceremonial passageways, drainage ditches and caves.

Today, Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s most holy cities and carries the nickname of “New Jerusalem.” It has been a pilgrimage site for Christians for centuries and continues to be a destination for worship and daily devotion for the priests, monks and orthodox Christians who comprise the town’s population. Tourists from around the world now also trek to Lalibela to marvel at its stunning architectural accomplishments. Though all of the original churches are still in active use, many of the structures are considered to be in critical condition as a result of water damage and seismic activity. UNESCO declared Lalibela a world-heritage site in 1978 and has organized support to restore the monuments. A number of the churches are now protected under temporary light-weight shelters.


The Rock Hewn Churches of Ethiopia,

One of the forgotten centers of Christianity, Ethiopia has an ancient history that can be traced back to Biblical times.  In the 4th century AD Christian missionaries flocked to the ancient kingdom, establishing a rich Christian heritage that now forms the foundation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  While Islam spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, the Christian tradition continued in Ethiopia, with many Europeans thinking of Ethiopia as a “New Jerusalem”.

In the 12th and 13th centuries near the modern day village of Lalibela, a group of Coptic and Ethiopian Christians established a large religious center complete with monasteries and 11 churches.  However, the churches of Lalibela were unlike any other in all of Christendom.  Carved out of solid rock, the churches of Lalibela were built from the top down rather than the bottom up.  Essentially the engineers of the churches found large solid rock outcroppings, planned the shape and layout of the buildings, then had the workers begin carving downward.  An incredible feat of engineering and planning, the carving work alone would have taken years of tedious, exhausting hard work as the Ethiopians would have only had simple iron chisels and tools.  Aliens were probably not present.

Once the building was carved and shaped out, the workers would have then hollowed out the inside of the building, carving windows, interior spaces, chambers, vaults, domes, and archways.  Needless to say, being carved directly out of the solid stone, the churches of Lalibela were made to last.  The interior of the churches would have been decorated with Byzantine style icons, portraits, frescos, and mosaics whose color and beauty rival that of Medieval Europe.  Much of the artwork is still intact, fastidiously cared for by the monks and clerics who have occupied the grounds for hundreds of years.

In addition to the art and architecture of the rock hewn churches, the placement of the churches was not random or arbitrary.  Rather, the churches were built to take advantage of an artesian well system.  An artesian well is a well drilled into an aquifer that is under pressure from various layers of rock strata.  Due to this pressure, the water will have a tendency to rise to the surface when a well is drilled.  It is possible that the residents of the churches had running water which was supplied by the artesian system. It is quite clear that the Medieval Ethiopians were talented geologists as well as engineers.


For centuries the rock hewn churches have been a focal point of pilgrimage for Coptic and Ethiopian Christians.  Even today, the churches are still used and serve as a center of holy pilgrimage.  Today the rock hewn churches of Lalibela are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Threats to the churches include encroaching development and damage done by tourists.  A few of the churches also have structural problems which the UN and Ethiopian government are working to fix.

Mysteries of medieval graffiti in England's churches


Medieval graffiti of straw kings, pentagrams, crosses, ships and “demon traps” have been offering a tantalising glimpse into England’s past. What do the pictures reveal about life in the Middle Ages?

A project to record the graffiti, which began in Norfolk, has now been rolled out to other areas and is gradually spreading across England.

Armed with just a torch and a camera, a team of volunteers have recorded more than 28,000 images from churches in Norfolk alone and are a third of the way through searching Norwich Cathedral, where there are many more examples.

Although the drawings discovered so far undoubtedly offer an insight into the minds of some - possibly bored - churchgoers in the Middle Ages, their precise meaning is not always clear. Read more.



The Church of St. Nicholas in Densuș is among the oldest and most unusual sacred buildings in Romania, and almost certainly the country’s oldest still-used Orthodox church.

It likely dates from the 13th Century, although the original structure on that site may have been built much earlier. Since no written documentation of its founding survives, its exact age is disputed. Theories about the structure’s origins abound, including that it was built on the site of a pagan temple, or served as a mausoleum for a Roman general. The Late Romanesque construction is curiously piecemeal, giving the impression that it was built in several stages, also incorporating stone from the nearby ruins of Roman Sarmizegetusa (Ulpia Traiana).

More at Atlas Obscura 


Going to St. Michaeliskirche in Hamburg today really made me think twice about my opinion on Baroque architecture (maybe you were right, Grace). I’ve always thought it was too excessive and almost gaudy at times—and I still stand by that, sometimes there is such thing as too much—but this church was just breathtaking. The gold and white walls combined with all of the natural light create such a beautiful atmosphere, it really forced me to question my dislike of Baroque architecture. It’s hard to capture the beauty of this building in photos, like with any great work of art, but it is incredible, I would definitely recommend visiting it (and climbing to the top of the tower to view the city as well)!