The rock-hewn churches of lalibela


Lalibela, 642 kilometres from Addis Ababa (the capital city of Ethiopia is internationally-
renowned for its rock-hewn
churches which are sometimes
called the “Eighth Wonder of the
World”. Physically prised from the
rock in which they stand, these
monolithic churches were
originally thought to have been
built in the 12th century during
the reign of King Lalibela, but
some have been dated back to
the 10th century. There are
eleven churches, assembled in
three groupings:
The Northern Group: Bete
Medhane Alem, home to the
Lalibela Cross and believed to be
the largest monolithic church in
the world. It is linked to Bete
Maryam (possibly the oldest of
the churches), Bete Golgotha
(known for its arts and said to
contain the tomb of King
Lalibela), the Selassie Chapel and
the Tomb of Adam.
The Western Group: Bete
Giyorgis, said to be the most
finely executed and best
preserved church.

The Eastern Group: Bete
Amanuel , Bete Merkorios, Bete
Abba Libanos and Bete Gabriel-
Rufael.

Further a field lie the monastery
of Ashetan Maryam and
Yimrehane Kristos church.

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