The small town of Lalibela in Ethiopiais home to one of the world’s most astounding sacred sites: eleven rock-hewn churches, each carved entirely out of a single block of granite with its roof at ground level.
The 11 Ethiopian Orthodox churches here have to be seen – and walked through – to be believed. They were built in the 13th century on the orders of King Lalibela, not from the ground up but chiselled out of the town’s red volcanic rock hills. Legend has it that the toil… of thousands of labourers on this “new Jerusalem” during the day was continued by angels at night.
be more unique.
The churches of Lalibela were not constructed — they were excavated. Each church was created by first carving out a wide trench on all four sides of the rock, then painstakingly chiseling out the interior. The largest church is 40 feet high, and the labor required to complete such a task with only hammers and chisels is astounding.
Popular legend has it that angels came every night to pick up where the workmen had left off. One of the churches, Bet Maryam, contains a stone pillar on which King Lalibela wrote the secrets of the buildings’ construction. It is covered with old cloths and only the priests may look.
The Ethiopian are said to be the keepers of the Ark.