Laibeila Church, Ethiopia

Lalibela

The small Ethiopian town of Lalibela is the eighth wonder of the world and is home to one of the world’s most astounding sacred sites, the 13 rock-hewn churches, each carved entirely out of a single block of granite with its roof at ground level.

Some of the churches lie almost completely hidden in deep trenches, while others stand in open quarried caves. A complex and bewildering labyrinth of tunnels and narrow passageways with offset crypts, grottoes and galleries connects the churches. Lalibela is one place you should not miss whilst in Ethiopia.

Old Church, Lalibela, Ethiopia
Lalibela, Ethiopia
Man entering Church, Lalibela, Ethiopia
Lalibela, Ethiopia

A little more about Lalibela

The town of Lalibela was originally known as Roha but was renamed after the 12th-century King Lalibela, who commissioned the extraordinary churches.

Were it not for these extraordinary rock-hewn churches, Lalibela could easily be overlooked. Nestled in the gently sloping countryside, this small dusty rural town has only had electricity since the late 1990s. A perfect town for exploration, its history offers a certain amount of intrigue for the discerning and culturally interested traveller.

However, it must be noted that getting down into the churches requires some dexterity, as the steps can be steep, rocky and rough.

Experiences

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Yemrehana Kristos, Lalibela, Ethiopia

Church of Yemrehanna Kristos

Visit the remote and deeply sacred church of Yemrehanna Kristos, which sits within a vast cavern. Here, the remains of more than 10,000 pilgrims are said to lie.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Unique monolithic rock hewn Church of St. George (Bete Giyorgis), UNESCO World heritage, Lalibela, Ethiopia

Visit Bet Giyorgis at Dusk

Visit the outlying Bet Giyorgis, arguably Lalibela’s most beautiful church. Carved into the shape of a Greek cross and perfectly preserved, this masterpiece is best appreciated in the late afternoon sunlight.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Rock Church of St. George in Lalibela, Ethiopia

Rock-cut Churches

Visit Lalibela’s iconic rock-cut churches, which are hewn into the hillside. Built during the 12th and 13th century, these still-active religious edifices are cut into the red volcanic rock.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Priests, Lalibela, Ethiopia

Experience Timkat

Visit Lalibela’s churches during the Orthodox Epiphany, Timkat, when religious fervour descends on the country. Parades, processions and baptism re-enactments all take place during this national celebration.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Rock Church of St. George in Lalibela, Ethiopia
Ethiopia

Ethiopian Highlands including Lalibela

With an intoxicating mixture of spectacular scenery and fascinating culture and heritage, Ethiopia offers unrivalled diversity. Rock-hewn churches, monasteries and castles decorate the landscape, which has been shaped by a long and rich history that this journey aims to uncover.

9 days

from £3,910 pp

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Illona Cross

Born in a small South African town, I have always followed my passion for nature and discovery. After studying Nature Conservation in Pretoria, I was one of the first women to complete a very tough cadetship in the Natal Parks Board. It was here where I cut my teeth in African wildlife management.

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