The Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela

Wednesday, 1 December 2021 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, House of the Month, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  4 minutes

Bete Giyorgis © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bete Giyorgis © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela are monolithic churches located in the Western Ethiopian Highlands near the town of Lalibela, named after the late-12th and early-13th century King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela of the Zagwe Dynasty, who commissioned the massive building project of 11 rock-hewn churches to recreate the holy city of Jerusalem in his own kingdom. The site remains in use by the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church to this day, and it remains an important place of pilgrimage for Ethiopian Orthodox worshipers. It took 24 years to build all the eleven rock hewn churches. The site of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela was first included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978.

The Churches of Lalibela hold important religious significance for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Together they form a pilgrimage site with particular spiritual and symbolic value, with a layout representing the holy city of Jerusalem. The site continues to be used for daily worship and prayer, the celebration of religious festivals like Genna, and as a place which increasingly brings together religious adherents and leaders every year.

Lalibela Village © flickr.com - Damien Halleux Radermecker/cc-by-sa-2.0 Lalibela Village © flickr.com - Rod Waddington/cc-by-sa-2.0 Bete Abba Libanos © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0 Bete Amanuel © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0 Bete Gabriel Raphael © Sailko/cc-by-3.0 Bete Giyorgis © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0 Bete Giyorgis © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0 Bete Golgotha Mikael © Geichhorn2000/cc-by-sa-4.0 Bete Maryam © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0 Bete Maskal © Sailko/cc-by-3.0 Bete Medhani Alem © Sailko/cc-by-3.0 Bilaba Chirkos © Sailko/cc-by-3.0 Tomb of Adam © flickr.com - Chuck Moravec/cc-by-2.0
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Lalibela Village © flickr.com - Damien Halleux Radermecker/cc-by-sa-2.0
The altitude is around 2,480m. The archaeological site consists of 3 sections: the northwestern group, the southeastern group, and Biete Giorgis. The Northwestern group consists of Biete Medhane Alem, Biete Maryam, Biete Golgotha Mikael, Biete Meskel, and Biete Denagel, which are connected to each other by systems of tunnels and trenches. Like the Northwestern group, the collection of churches to the southeast, consisting of Biete Amanuel, Biete Qeddus Mercoreus, Biete Abba Libanos, Biete Lehem, and Biete Gabriel-Rufael, are also connected by a system of tunnels.

The churches are each unique, giving the site an architectural diversity that is evident by the human figures of bas-reliefs inside Bet Golgotha; and the colorful paintings of geometrical designs and biblical scenes in Bet Mariam. Moldings and string courses divide larger structural shapes into smaller sections in many of the churches. The construction of the churches are thought to have taken place in 3 phases. All 11 churches were the result of a process using the basic tools of hammers and chisels to excavate trenches surrounding the monolithic and semi-monolithic structures as well as a system of tunnels which connected two separate groups of the churches with each other out of the scoriaceous basalt. The “construction” was done from top to bottom.

Read more on UNESCO.org – Rock-Hewn Churches and Wikipedia Rock-Hewn Churches. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Johns Hopkins University & Medicine - Coronavirus Resource Center - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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