Ethiopia’s Extraordinary 12th Century Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela

Posted: November 16, 2015 in Ethiopia - the Secret of Africa

King Lalibela sought to recreate Jerusalem, and structured the churches’ landscape and religious sites in such a way as to achieve such a feat. The churches were built after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land and since then, have become the ‘New Jerusalem’, a pilgrimage site for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, as well as a point of interest for historians and tourists from around the world

.Lalibela Ethiopia

The churches are clustered in two major groups, one representing the earthly Jerusalem, and the other representing the heavenly Jerusalem. Located directly between them is a trench representing the River Jordan.

The churches were constructed in a unique way; they were cut from a single block of limestone rock. These blocks were further chiselled out, forming doors, windows, columns, floors and roofs. These colossal constructions were further completed with an extensive system of drainage ditches, trenches and ceremonial passages, some with openings to hermit caves.

The famous churches were built in a variety of styles. Some of them were chiselled into the face of the rock, where others stand as isolated blocks, like the iconic church of Saint George, the last of the churches which is constructed in the shape of the cross. The same complex system of tunnels and subterranean passageways connects the St George to the other churches. Read more:


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