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The extraordinary, isolated town of Lalibela, set high in the mountain of Lasta situated on the south direction of Axum, is famed for its rock- hewn churches, and is arguably the one place in Ethiopia that no tourist should miss. Known as Roha until recent time ,Lalibela was the capital of the Zagwe dynasty ,which ruled over Ethiopia from the 10th century to the mid of 13th century ,and its modern name obtain from that of the most famous of the Zagwe rulers ,the 12th century king Lalibela.
No matter you visited other rock –hewn churches in Ethiopia, noting will prepare you for these. The Lalibela churches are big several are in excess of 10 meter high and because they are carved below ground level, they are ringed by trenches and courtyards, there sides of which are cut in to with stone graves and hermit cells ,and connected to each other by a tangled maze of tunnels and passages. Each individual churches is unique in shape and size, precisely carved and minutely decorated. Lalibela is, in a word, awesome. When the Portuguese priest Francisco Alvares was taken to Lalibela in 1521, he doubted that his compatriots would believe what he has seen.