Lalibela is amazing. But most people wouldn’t know the name if you spat it at them; which is a shame, since it is as wondrous as anything else the world can offer in terms of great monuments.


Sunday morning service at Church of Saint George (known in Ethiopia as: Bet Giyorgis). Photo taken from where I watched the same church service back in 1994

Lalibela is a mountain town in northern Ethiopia known for its Medieval, rock-hewn churches. That’s right, eleven churches cut-out from the mountainside some 800 years ago. The most famous church is that dedicated to Saint George. A monolithic wonder cut in the shape of a cross.


Up and personal with the grandest church in Lalibela

This first posting on Lalibela focuses on the Saint George Church. It was here on 25th December – Western Xmas Day – 1994 that I sat at nearby tree and watched an amazing Sunday service.


The story about this church is that Giyorgis – St George – was so offended that none of Lalibela’s churches was dedicated to him that he personally visited the king to set things straight.

King Lalibela responded by promising he would build the finest of all his churches for Giyorgis. So enthusiastic was the saint to see the result of Lalibela’s promise that he rode his horse right over the wall into the entrance tunnel. The holes in the stone tunnel walls are the hoof prints of St George’s horse – or so they tell you in Lalibela. [SOURCE: Bradt Travel Guide to Ethiopia ]


LEFT: Sunday service priest. RIGHT: devoted nun; priest offering blessing within the church of Saint George.

This is my second visit to Lalibela. About twenty years since my first visit. If you want to see more pics and read about its history then I recommend this post about my Christmas Day Lalibela experience back in 1994.

priest saint george church lalibela ethiopia painting by Michael Robert Powell

A Prayer For My Father (who died while I was in Ethiopia in 2013)

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