Churches, Temples, Mosques are some of the popular places of worship which many people visit. Some of them have a rich history and some are wonders which we get to witness when we visit. There are many churches, temples, and mosques which are beautiful and are located in scenic locations.
These places of worship are worshipped by many people for centuries and have a powerful effect over here. The buildings were constructed by amazing architecture that puts modern architecture to shame and one such Church is Rock-Hewn Churches, in the town of Lalibela located in Ethiopia.
Located around 645 km from Addis Ababa, in the mountainous Amhara regions of northern Ethiopia, 11 monolithic churches are carved out of rocks. The town of Lalibela is attributed to King Lalibela who set out to construct these churches after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the holy land. King Lalibela’s (AD 1181 to 1221) reign was one of the most flourished reigns where when the churches were constructed and the town was a high place for European Christianity.
These churches were magnificent and one of the most important tourist destinations which bought maximum revenue.
These 11 churches are interconnected with a system of trenches and are divided into 2 main groups.
The one group of churches are located to the North of River Jordan that includes Biete Medhani Alem (House of the Saviour of the World), Biete Mariam (House of Mary), Biete Maskal (House of the Cross), Biete Denagel (House of Virgins), Biete Golgotha Mikael (House of Golgotha Mikael) and the other group are located to the South of River Jordan that includes Biete Amanuel (House of Emmanuel), Biete Qeddus Mercoreus (House of St. Mercoreos), Biete Abba Libanos (House of Abbot Libanos), Biete Gabriel Raphael (House of Gabriel Raphael), and Biete Lehem (House of Holy Bread). The last church that is the 11th church Biete Ghiorgis (House of St. George) remains isolated from the rest.
Out of all the churches, Biete Medhani Alem is believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world with 5 aisles and Biete Ghiorgis is said to have an amazing cruciform plan. It is said that churches Biete Mercoreos and Biete Gabriel Rafael would have been royal residences as several interiors are decorated with murals.
Bet Golgotha has a replica of Jesus’ tomb and a manger where Mary gave birth, The Biete Maryam courtyard connects it to Biete Golgotha and Biete Mikael. Where while you enter it first connects to Biete Mikael and then to Biete Golgotha. Bet Giyorgis is the most visual church of all the churches.
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The churches were not constructed in traditional ways but were hewn from the monolithic rocks. These blocks were chiseled out where they formed doors, windows, columns, and various floors. These gigantic churches also had extensive drainage systems, trenches, and ceremonial passages where some had openings to hermit caves and catacombs.