Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, Lalibela

4.7
World heritage site · Ruin · Religious Site
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A pilgrim destination and World Heritage Site, Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela lie deep in the mountains at the heart of Ethiopia. Located in one of the country's holiest cities, the 11 monolithic Ethiopian Orthodox churches are believed to have been hand-carved out of rock between the 12th and 14th centuries, resembling Jerusalem in their layout. Two groups of churches cluster between the River Jordan, interlinked by drainage systems and ceremonial passages for visitors to explore. Put Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela on your schedule, and learn what else deserves a visit by using our Lalibela attractions planning site.
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Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela reviews

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  • While transiting two nights in Ethiopia, I was able, in an afternoon and morning, to see these old rock hewn churches on my bucket list! My highlight was seeing the churches and the Lalibelans... 
    While transiting two nights in Ethiopia, I was able, in an afternoon and morning, to see these old rock hewn churches on my bucket list! My highlight was seeing the churches and the Lalibelans...  more »
  • We had a good guide. Pricey tour but worth it. Fascinating labyrinth of tunnels and grottos dating back almost a millennium. 
    We had a good guide. Pricey tour but worth it. Fascinating labyrinth of tunnels and grottos dating back almost a millennium.  more »
  • This is one of the best places, I have seen in my entire life. I still wonder how could that been done sometime 900 years ago? It is mesmerizing! our guide was very knowledgeable and knows a lot... 
    This is one of the best places, I have seen in my entire life. I still wonder how could that been done sometime 900 years ago? It is mesmerizing! our guide was very knowledgeable and knows a lot...  more »
Google
  • The 11 medieval monolithic cave churches of this 13th-century 'New Jerusalem' are situated in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia near a traditional village with circular-shaped dwellings. Lalibela is a high place of Ethiopian Christianity, still today a place of pilmigrage and devotion. Brief synthesis In a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia, some 645 km from Addis Ababa, eleven medieval monolithic churches were carved out of rock. Their building is attributed to King Lalibela who set out to construct in the 12th century a ‘New Jerusalem’, after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the holy Land. Lalibela flourished after the decline of the Aksum Empire. There are two main groups of churches – to the north of the river Jordan: Biete Medhani Alem  (House of the Saviour of the World), Biete  Mariam (House of Mary), Biete  Maskal (House of the Cross), Biete Denagel (House of Virgins), Biete Golgotha Mikael (House of Golgotha Mikael); and to the south of the river, Biete Amanuel (House of Emmanuel), Biete Qeddus Mercoreus (House of St. Mercoreos), Biete Abba Libanos (House of Abbot Libanos), Biete Gabriel Raphael (House of Gabriel Raphael), and Biete Lehem (House of Holy Bread). The eleventh church, Biete Ghiorgis (House of St. George), is isolated from the others, but connected by a system of trenches. The churches were not constructed in a traditional way but rather were hewn from the living rock of monolithic blocks. These blocks were further chiselled out, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, roofs etc. This gigantic work was further completed with an extensive system of drainage ditches, trenches and ceremonial passages, some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs. Biete Medhani Alem, with its five aisles, is believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world, while Biete Ghiorgis has a remarkable cruciform plan. Most were probably used as churches from the outset, but Biete Mercoreos and Biete Gabriel Rafael may formerly have been royal residences. Several of the interiors are decorated with mural paintings. Near the churches, the village of Lalibela has two storey round houses, constructed of local red stone, and known as the Lasta Tukuls. These exceptional churches have been the focus of pilgrimage for Coptic Christians since the 12th century.
  • Mesmerizing St. George chruch. The details are in the people and artwork. Should be one of the wonders of the world.! A must see.
  • These rock cut churches are amazing and the most holiest place in Ethopia. There are 11 of these kind of churches hewn from solid rock. All of them are arranged in two groups and are connected with passageways 11 meters (36 feet) deep. The largest church, the house of Medhane, stands at a height of 10 meters (33 feet), and is 33 meters (108 feet) long and 22 meters (72 feet) wide. It is a very interesting place to visit.
  • Men,where do i start?what a Historical,Holy,Magnificent,Mind Bottling Place to be in.so proud to be an Ethiopian(African).Can't believe it was taken 10 Years Ago.
  • When I go to lalibela I always feel proud! lalibela is the home of wonderful rock hewn churches, spectacular locations, beautiful culture and hospitable people.

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