Lalibela, Ethiopia is a town in northern Ethiopia and one of the most beautiful of African cities which is also a centre of the holy Christian Orthodox Church. Lalibela, Ethiopia, is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, second only to Aksum and is a center of pilgrimage for much of the country. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. Lalibela was intended to be a New Jerusalem in response to the capture of Jerusalem by Muslims, and many of its historic buildings take their name and layout from buildings in Jerusalem.

During the reign of Saint Gebre Mesqel Lalibela who was a member of the Zagwe Dynasty, ruled Ethiopia in the late 12th century and early 13th century. The current town of Lalibela, Ethiopia was known as Roha. The saintly king was given this name due to a swarm of bees said to have surrounded him at his birth, which his mother took as a sign of his future reign as Emperor of Ethiopia. The names of several places in the modern town and the general layout of the monolithic churches themselves are said to mimic names and patterns observed by Lalibela during the time he spent in Jerusalem and the Holy Land as a youth.

Lalibela, is said to have seen Jerusalem and then attempted to build a New Jerusalem as his capital in response to the capture of old Jerusalem by Muslims in 1187. The city remained the capital of Ethiopia from the late 12th century and into the 13th century. This town is known around the world for its monolithic churches which play an important part in the history of rock-cut architecture.

Contrary to theories advocated by many, the great rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia were not built with the help of the Knights Templar; abundant evidence exists to show that they were produced solely by medieval Ethiopian civilization.

The churches are a significant engineering feat, given that they are all associated with water (which fills the wells next to many of the churches) exploiting an artesian geological system that brings the water up to the top of the mountain ridge on which the city rests. Lalibela, Ethiopia is also known for its airport. Lalibela is known as the city of many rock hewn churches and is the grand city of priests.


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