About Lalibela

The Rock Churches of Ethiopia

Lalibela is an Ethiopian Holy City named after Saint Gebremeskel Lalibela (a member of the Zagwe Dynasty) and is home to eleven rock-hewn churches carved out of a solid volcanic rock.

Lalibela is located in Wollo province in the northern part of Ethiopia. There are 12 churches and chapels and various shrines. Four churches are monolithic and others are excavated churches. The walls of the trenches and courtyards contain cavities and chambers some filled with mummies.

The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are divided into Northern, Eastern and Western groups.

The northern group consists of Biete Medhane Alem home of the Lalibela Cross and the largest monolithic church in the world, Biete Mariam (the oldest church) and Biete Golgota (said to contain the tomb of Lalibela), the Selassie chapel and Tomb of Adam

The Western Group includes Biete Giorgis the best preserved church.

The Eastern Group contains Biete Amanuel, Biete Merkorios, Biete Abba Libanos and Biete Gabriel-Rufael.

Four of the churches are freestanding attached to the surrounding rock only by their bases.

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