Lalibela Tours, Vacations, Travel Packages & Experiences
While on an Ethiopian vacation, Lalibela is a small town located at an altitude of almost 2,800 metres/9100 feet in the Ethiopian highlands. Here in the 13th Century devout Christians began hewing out the red volcanic rock to create 13 churches. Four of them were finished as completely free-standing structures attached to their mother rock only at their bases. The remaining nine range from semi-detached to ones whose facades are the only features that have been 'liberated' from the rock. The Jerusalem theme is important.
When traveling to Ethiopia, the rock churches, although connected to one another by maze-like tunnels, are physically separated by a small river which the Ethiopians named the Jordan. Churches on one side of the Jordan represent the earthly Jerusalem; whereas those on the other side represent the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of jewels and golden sidewalks alluded to in the Bible. Their building is attributed to King Lalibela who set out to construct in the 12th century a ‘New Jerusalem’, after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land.
The churches were not constructed in a traditional way but rather were hewn from the living rock of monolithic blocks. These blocks were further chiseled out, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, roofs etc. This gigantic work was further completed with an extensive system of drainage ditches, trenches and ceremonial passages, some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs, an interesting aspect on Ethiopia tours..
The Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela are still preserved in their natural settings. The association of the rock-hewn churches and the traditional vernacular circular houses, in the surrounding area, still demonstrate evidences of the ancient village layout. The original function of the site as a pilgrimage place still persists and provides evidence of the continuity of social practices. The intangible heritages associated with church practices are still preserved.
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