About Ethiopia, Lalibela

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We like to provide you some information about the country, the culture, the weather and especially about Lalibela, where we come from!



Ethiopia:

Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, is a rugged, landlocked country split by the Great Rift Valley. With archaeological finds dating back more than 3 million Years, it’s a place of ancient culture, tradition and history. Among its important historical, cultural and natural destinations Lalibela is very famous to its rock-hewn Christian churches from the 12th-13th centuries. Aksum is the ruins of an ancient city with obelisks, tombs, castles and Our Lady Mary of Zion Church. The Southern Ethiopia nomadic peoples settled around the Omo Valley river has rich cultural lifestyle. The Northern Ethiopian highlands are another interesting places to do outdoor activities and mountain hiking over Mount Abuna Yosef and Semien mountain national park. 

Facts and Infos about Ethiopia:

  • Population: 84.9 million (UN, 2010)
  • Capital: Addis Ababa
  • Area: 1.13 million sq km (437,794 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Amharic, Oromo, Tigrinya, Somali
  • Money: 1 Birr = 100 cents
  • Internet domain: .et
  • International dialling code: +251


Ethiopia houses one of the greatest concentrations of World Heritage sites in Africa, ranging from ancient stelae fields to dramatic mountains shielding unique fauna!

The Ethiopian Empire (Abyssinia) was first founded by Habesha people in the Ethiopian Highlands . Due to migration and imperial expansion, it grew to include many other primarily Afro-Asiatic speaking communities, including Oromos, Amhara, Somalis, Tigray, Afars, Sidama, Gurage, Agaw and Harari, among others.

Ethiopian Civilisation:

One of the earliest kingdoms to rise to power in the territory was the kingdom of D’mt in the 10th century BCE, which established its capital at Yeha. 

In the first century CE the Aksumite Kingdom rose to power in Tigray Region with its capital at Aksum and grew into a major power on the Red Sea , subjugating Yemen and Meroe and converting to Christianity in the early fourth century. 

The Aksumite empire fell into decline with the rise of Islam, forcing the Ethiopians to move south into the highlands for refuge. The Aksumites gave way to the Zagwe Dynasty who established a new capital at Lalibela , before giving way to the Solomonic Dynasty in the 13th century. 

During the early Solomonic period Ethiopia went through military reforms and imperial expansion that made it dominate the Horn of Africa.

Churches of Lalibela and its surrounding:

Lalibela(708 km Asphalt and gravel road from Addis Ababa) is a remote village in the northern part of Ethiopia, perched at 2630 metres in craggy mountains, which is famous for rock-hewn churches. 

These are an incredible accomplishment from the 12th Century, made even more astonishing by the lack of any adequate explanation of how they were built, when there is no archaeological evidence of there having been a community large enough to have provided the labour.

After Lalibela built the churches, the town, formerly known as Roha, became known as Lalibela and began to draw thousands of Pilgrimage. Although his dynasty was overthrown, Lalibela is still referred to as a Saint!

The churches are excavated from sloping mass of red volcanic scoria under laid by dark gray basalt and interconnected by maze of tunnels and passages with openings to hermit craves and catacombs the rock-hewn churches give the impression of underground city. But not only have the the rock-churches survived until today. Sometimes far older has, too. The churches are far at least 900+ years the religious and spiritual center of the region.

Lalibela is still referred to as a New Jerusalem, with a river named Jordan and sites corresponding to the holy places of the great city.

There are two main groups of churches, with another church dedicated to Saint George a short distance away. All Eleven rock-hewn churches can be visited within Two days.

From the street and even closer they are hardly visible, something that has preserved them until today. Some churches are monolithic, some of the basilica type, having archaic features and imitating architectural elements from earlier periods, some of them are remarkably similar to the architecture of ancient Aksum (Northern Ethiopia), yet each church has its individual styles.

Bet Giyorgis, the most elegant church, lies somewhat isolated inn southwest part of the village on a sloping rock terrace. It can be only reached through a tunnel walk way.