Explore a different destination UNESCO World Heritage Site Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia





Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela comprises eleven medieval monolithic churches in the heart of Ethiopia. Lalibela itself is one of the holiest cities in Ethiopia for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians.

The Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela were carved out of the rock in the 13th century as a "New Jerusalem", following the fall of Jerusalem to Muslims. As such, it replicates many of the historic buildings in Jerusalem itself. Lalibela was a site of Ethiopian Christianity. It is still today a place of pilgrimage.

The town of Lalibela was originally known as Roha. It was renamed after Saint Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, a member of the clan ruling Ethiopia in the late 12th to the early 13th century. Lalibela has visited Jerusalem and the Holy Land as a youth, and he recreated the New Jerusalem out of the town of Roha.

Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the 2nd session of the World Heritage Committee in Washington, D.C., USA, on 5-8 September, 1978.

Photos of Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela

Church of Bet Giyorgis, Lalibela, Ethiopia
Church of Bet Giyorgis, Lalibela, Ethiopia
Author: Giustino (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Bet Giyorgis Church in Lalibela, Ethiopia
Bet Giyorgis Church in Lalibela, Ethiopia
Author: Pzbinden7 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Church of Bette Maryam, Lalibela
Church of Bette Maryam, Lalibela
Author: BluesyPete (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Interior of Bette Maryam church
Interior of Bette Maryam church
Author: CT Snow (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Church of Bet Abba Libanos in Lalibela, Ethiopia
Church of Bet Abba Libanos in Lalibela, Ethiopia
Author: fiverlocker (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Church of Bet Amanuel in Lalibela, Ethiopia
Church of Bet Amanuel in Lalibela, Ethiopia
Author: Giustino (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Na'akweto La'ab Monastery, Lalibela
Na'akweto La'ab Monastery, Lalibela
Author: Philip Kromer (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: N 12 1 45.66 E 39 2 25.512 Amhara Region, Ethiopia
Inscription Year: 1978
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: I, II, III

Location Map of Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela

The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela is number 2 on the map.


View UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ethiopia in a larger map

Visiting Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela

There is an airport at Lalibela served by Ethiopian Airlines once a day. Due to this being a major Christian prilgrimage destination, flights are usually overbooked, so reconfirm your flight at leave a day in advance and show up at the airport on time.

There are also buses from Addis-Ababa to Lalibela. The journey takes two days with an overnight stop at Dessie.

Within Lalibela you can get around by renting minibuses to take you around. The town itself is safe enough for you to walk around and the people are friendly but may stare at strangers.


Return to Ethiopia's World Heritage Sites
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