The town flourishes as a museum of rock hewn churches. The construction of these churches is attributed to King Lalibela at the high point of Zagwe period, a memorial to the level of civilization reached during that period.
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. As such, many features have Biblical names – even the town’s river is known as the River Jordan. It remained the capital of Ethiopia from the late 12th century and into the 13th century.
The rock hewn churches of Lalibela have been recognized by UNESCO as part of the world cultural heritage site in 1978.
Thoughtful thoughts to your inbox