Lalibela Rock Hewn Churches

Lalibela is a strikingly singular town famed for its 12th century rock-hewn churches. No matter if you've visited other rock-hewn churches in the rest of the world; nothing will prepare you for these.

Lalibela, previously known as Roha, is named after king Lalibela himself at the end of 12th century. Lalibela is considered to be a New Jerusalem as a pilgrimage to the real Jerusalem wasn't possible At the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries, King Lalibela of the Zaghwe dynasty built a series of eleven rock hewn churches, carved into the rugged mountainsides. The churches are carved below ground level and they are ringed by trenches and courtyards and connected to each other by a tangled maze of tunnels and passages. In size and scope, the church complex feels like a subterranean village. These churches are, and what they have been for at least 800 years, an active Christian shrine, and the spiritual centre of a town's religious life. Lalibela would rightly be celebrated as one of the wonders of the world.

The mountains around Lalibela are also studded with medieval monasteries and churches. Many of them are very different from their Lalibela counterparts and can be visited as straightforward day trips from the town like Ashetun Mariam and the cave churches of Yemrehane Christos and Naakuto laab.

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