Lalibela

Lalibela is a striking town, set in the high mountains of Lasta, famed for its rock-hewn churches. The town was named after the most famous ruler of the Zagwe dynasty, the 12th century King Lalibela.

Why visit Lalibela ?

According to legend, prophecy told Lalibela that he was to become future king. The current king, his older brother, displeased with the prophecy, poisoned his brother but instead of killing him put him into a deep sleep. During this sleep Lalibela was transported to heaven and shown a city of rock-hewn churches which he was told to replicate. Meanwhile his brother also had a vision in which he was told to abdicate in favour of Lalibela. As soon as Lalibela was King he got the best craftsmen and artisans in order to carve the churches. A team of angels was supposedly helping too.

The excavation of these churches is indeed something of a mystery as approximately 40,000 people would have been required to carve them, so it is not surprising that legends are used to explain their existence. Each church is unique in shape or size and decorated with great detail. As they are carved into the ground, the churches are surrounded by trenches and courtyards, connected by tunnels and passages, giving one the impression of an entire subterranean village. Part of Lalibela’s charm is that these churches aren’t there for the tourists, they are primarily the spiritual centre of a religious town, thus hardly known to the outside world, an extraordinary fact that makes Lalibela appeal all the more to those who visit here.

LOCATION

ETHIOPIA KEY INFO

Visa

A Visa is required for UK passport holders.

Health Requirements

No mandatory vaccinations are required.

Time Difference

GMT + 3 Hours

Flight Time

7.5hrs Direct

FOLLOW US

You can follow our adventures and travel inspiration and share your holiday experiences with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Keep up-to-date with the latest travel trends, inspiration for future trips and competitions to win luxury travel vouchers.

Subscribe