Truly Amazing Places You Must Visit Before You Die
In a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia, some 700 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 (ላሊበላ) is history and mystery frozen in stone, its soul alive with the rites and awe of Christianity at its most ancient and unbending. No matter what you’ve heard about Lalibela, no matter how many pictures you’ve seen of its breathtaking rock-hewn churches, nothing can prepare you for the reality of seeing it for yourself. It’s not only a World Heritage site, but truly a world wonder. Spending a night vigil here during one of the big religious festivals, when white-robed pilgrims in their hundreds crowd the courtyards of the churches, is to witness Christianity in its most raw and powerful form.
Hidden for centuries in the remote highlands, about 700 kilometers north of Addis Ababa, the magnificent rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are not to be missed by today’s visitor. This group of eleven monolithic and semi-monolithic structures was carved directly into the stone of the mountainside at least 800 years ago. With the largest monolithic church in the world; a maze of passageways and tunnels; intricately carved reliefs; and fabulous examples of icon paintings; the Lalibela churches were built by carving a massive rectangular trench around a solid stone block. This solid block was then hollowed out, leaving interior columns, windows, reliefs, etc. Other churches were carved in a similar fashion but leaving either one side or the roof attached to the surrounding stone. Not only the craftsmanship but also the sheer size of the churches is stunning. Medhane Alem, the largest, sits on 800 square meters and St. George is 15 meters deep.