"I weary of writing more about these buildings, because it seems to me that I shall not be believed if I write more ... I swear by God, in Whose power I am, that all I have written is the truth." Thus wrote Francisco Álvares, a Portuguese priest who was one of the first foreigners to visit Lalibela. This town in rural northern Ethiopia's Lasta Mountains is famous for the 11 rock-hewn churches that are located there, making it one of the holiest cities and Ethiopian Orthodox Christian pilgrimage destinations.
The churches, consisting of a northern, eastern and western group, were constructed during the reign of Gebre Mesqel Lalibela in the 12th and 13th century. As a youth Lalibela spent time in Jerusalem, and it is said that when he learned of the conquest of Jerusalem by Muslims in the late 12th century he decided to build a new Jerusalem.
In the northern group of churches you will find the Bete Medhane Alem, the largest monolithic church in the world and most impressive of the sights, while in the western group you find Bete Giyorgis, the best preserved of them all. Watching a ceremony take place here will give anyone goosebumps.
Getting here is easiest by bus (daily bus rides from Addis Ababa) or by airplane. [Review by travelindicator]
- Lalibela is a city in Ethiopia's region of Amhara. It has a population of 14,668, is situated at an altitude of 8018ft and the best airport to fly into is LLI (Lalibela, Lalibela)
- The currency used in Ethiopia is the Ethipian birr (ETB)
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