Lalibela is a town in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia. It’s known for its distinctive rock-cut churches dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, which are pilgrimage sites for Coptic Christians. Carved out of rock, the subterranean monoliths include huge Bete Medhane Alem, and cross-shaped Bete Giyorgis. Many are joined by tunnels and trenches, and some have carved bas-reliefs and colored frescoes inside.
Nearby, the Lalibela Cultural Centre Museum traces the history of the churches’ construction. Many traditional cylindrical houses with thatched roofs are dotted around the town. The main square has stalls selling textiles, jewelry and other handicrafts. To the north, Yemrehanna Kristos is a hillside cave with a stone-and-timber church built in the style of the ancient Kingdom of Aksum. To the east, the Asheton Maryam monastery is carved into the side of a cliff on Mount Abuna Yosef. The rugged terrain around this mountain’s peak is home to baboons and Ethiopian wolves, and draws hikers.
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ROUTE: Northern Ethiopia Circuit
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