The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lalibela, in the heart of Ethiopia, is ancient architecture and age-old religion all rolled into one. There are 11 interconnecting churches here, carved into the pink volcanic rock and dug into the ground. Legend has it, the Christian King Lalibela ordered a second Jerusalem to be built and this was the result. Even the most outlandish imagination would struggle to envision the architectural feat it took to create these masterpieces. Each church is beautiful in its own rite, but Bete Giyorgis (St George’s Church), carved in the shape of a Greek cross, is the most renowned and startling of the 11 monoliths.
Religious ceremony is a mesmerising daily occurrence here and sacred songs, stone bells, castanets, drums and incense are among the props carried by white-clothed pilgrims. Lalibela holidays are all about opening the door to a moving, historic wonder of the world that’s colossal in its spiritual significance and indelible in the mark it’ll leave within you.
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