Lalibela: Ethiopia’s Hidden Treasure

Lalibela…the name rolls off the tongue, sounding melodic and mysterious; the experience will meet all expectations. It literally means “even the bees recognize his sovereignty”. Lalibela is a holy city in Ethiopia, situated some 8400 feet above sea level, and is named after King Lalibela. In the 12th century, after the fall of Jerusalem, the Christians in Ethiopia could no longer travel abroad for their pilgrimage. King Lalibela had a vision of building a new Jerusalem in Ethiopia and commissioned 11 midieval monolithic churches to be carved out of solid rock. All of these churches were completed within a 23 year time period. Carved deep into the ground, these churches are hidden treasures, with underground tunnels and pathways connecting the buildings. The highlight for me was being led through a secret tunnel, pitch black, while our guide’s ancient song of adoration amplified off the solid rock walls. We turned the corner, saw the welcoming light and ended up in a hidden courtyard and with a beautiful church. Just Stunning!

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