Lalibela is an ancient town in Lasta Province 700 kms from Addis Ababa to the North, 300 kms from Bahr Dar to the East, 529 kms from Axum to the south, 300 kms from Dessie and 180 kms Northwest of Woldia. Lalibela was the capital of the Zagwe dynasty. Before the town rename as Lalibela it was known as Roha means the Place of Saints The Rock-hewn churches of Lalibela reflect the blending of ancient Christian tradition in Ethiopia. Yet they are an entirely new creation of early Christian art on Ethiopian soil.
Lalibela town has got different names by its visitors: The New Jerusalem, the Second Jerusalem, the secret of Jerusalem, the eighth wonder of the world, Heaven of God and others.
The World Heritage Committee entered World and Cultural heritages in its list for the first time in 1978. That time 11 of them were listed by UNESCO.
“…there is something appealing about this legend, even to the most cynical and Sophisticated of observers. Inevitably one finds oneself asking how, lacking modern Technology and skills, mere human beings could have strange and massive edifies. The scale of some of the churches is so large, the detail so fine… For this was no simple matter of laying brick on brick stone block on stone block, the churches were literally cut, hewn carved out of the ancient granite of the mountain.
The beginning of rock-cut churches in Ethiopia is dated to the 6th century by the Nine Saints. This rock church tradition is associated with the birth and burial places of Jesus Christ, which were a cave in Bethelem and carved rock in Gologotha, respectively. In addition to this symbolic importance, churches were built from rocks perhaps for their physical durability and longevity.
Although the tradition of rock-hewn church excavation was started earlier in the 6th century, it reached its high level of development during the period of Zagwe Dynasty, particularly during the reign of King Lalibela in the 12th century. In this regard, the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are the best examples. In addition to this, there are some rock-hewn churches around Lalibela by King Kaleb (Axumat) that date to the 6th century.