Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s holiest places, dating back to the 12th century. Lalibela town, formerly known as Roha, named after one of Ethiopian ruler, King Lalibela (1181-1221), a member of the Zagwe dynasty. Lalibela is known by the amazing eleven churches hewn from solid rock. Built in the twelfth century, they are still standing in excellent condition. Most consider them as the eighth wonder of the world, and is one of the world heritage sites listed by UNESCO.
The famous Lalibela churches carved out from the rock on which they stand. Some lie almost completely hidden in deep trenches, while others stand in open quarried caves. A complex and amazing labyrinth of tunnels and narrow passage ways connects them all. Seeing all of the Lalibela churches are well worth it – particularly during the colourful Ethiopian christian holidays: Genna, Ethiopian Christmas (on January 7th) and Timkat, Epiphany (on January 19th)
Genete Mariam is one of the most interesting outlying churches, a large monolith carved into a pink-tinged outcrop near the source of the Tekaze River. Supported by pillars, the church is very different from any of the excavation in Lalibela that it is not hidden within a trench, but carved openly on a rocky hilltop – though the cover of scaffolding rather detracts from the impact of seeing from afar according to tradition Genata Mariam was excavated during the reign of Yakuno Amlak, the king who ‘restored’ the Solomonic line in the early 13th century.
Yimrehanna Kristos Lying 42KM northeast of Lalibela,Yimrehanna Kristos it is an exquisite Church, a masterpiece of Axumite wood and stone construction and renowned for its interior decoration, it’s beautiful wooden coffer ceiling inlaid with hexagons and medallions with both figurative and geometric motifs.
Naakute Le’Abe King Nakuto abdicated his throne in 1270 AD and went to a cave to lead a hermit’s life. This cave has ever since became a monastery and has dramatic setting.
Asheten Mariam A 13th C. rock hewn monastery found about 8 kms from Lalibela lying on an altitude of almost 4,000m. It is carved out of a cleft into a cliff face. The setting of the church and the view on the way up is a rewarding experience.
Arbatu Enssessa An old church detached from the surrounding rock on two sides. The pillars and doors mimicking the Axumite design. It is dedicated to the four beasts, symbol of the four evangelists who followed Kidus Yohanesss.
Bilbala Giorgis Found 30 km North West of Lalibela ,this church is excavated only in the front and is often surrounded by a swarm of supposedly sacred bees. Powder made from crushed rocks near is believed to be a valuable skin treatment. Bilbala Cherqos A semi-monolithic church properly orientated and has been worked from a piece tuff from east to west. It is architecturally reminiscent of the facade of Bet Gabriel-Rufa’el and the admirable murals depicting saints and the Evangelists in the interior are of particular interest to the visitor.