In the province of Lasta, the ancient village of Roha took the name of the Emperor Lalibela (1181-1221), whose name literally means “The Gods Recognise You As King”. It was he who ordered the construction of the town’s eleven extraordinary churches, which were built with the aim of creating a “New Jerusalem”.
The eleven monolithic and semi-monolithic churches of Lalibela are carved from the tufa rock of the mountain overhangs and are separated from the mountains by trenches. Both outside and inside, all the churches are finely carved. The interiors of some contain well-preserved original paintings portraying scenes from the Old and New Testaments.
Lalibela has long been recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
There are also some fascinating churches near Lalibela, including:
– Yemrehana Christos, which is located inside a cave and is in the typical Axumite style; – Bilbala Cherkos, housing outstanding frescoes, some of which are now unfortunately damaged;
– Sarsana Mika’el, which local tradition dates back to time of the Emperor Kaleb (4th century);
– Nakutalab, built by the wishes of King Nakutalab, nephew of King Lalibela.