Lalibela & its Rock Churches:

Lalibela & its Rock Churches

The first European to describe the rock churches of Lalibela ascribe the creation to one of the last kings of the Zagwe dynasty, Lalibela, who reigned about 1200A.D.

The Zagwe Dynasty had come to power in the eleventh century, one hundred years after Queen Judith a ferocious woman warrior had led her tribes up from semein Mountains to destroy Axum, the capital of the ancient Ethiopia Empire in the north.

The Zagwe kings ruled until the thirteenth century, when a famous priest, tekel Haymanot, persuaded them to abdicate in favor of the descendant of the old Axumite dynasty.

Lalibela grew up in Roha, where his brother was king. It is said that bees prophesied his future greatness, social advance and coming riches. In Lalibela you will find main groups of churches, one on each side of the river Jordan and the other church set apart from the rest. The town of Roha –Lalibela lies between the first and the second group of churches.

There are twelve churches and chapels, including various shrines. Four churches are monolithic in the strict sense; the reaming are excavated churches in different degrees of separation from the rock .the churches in group are set on several levels .to carry off the heavy summer rains. The trenches serve as a drainage system to the river Jordan .with churches whose placing conforms to the slope of the terrain, the ridge of the roof ,gutter edges the base of the plinth are slanted in line with it .