Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lalibela is a city in the ethnic division, or kililoch, of Ethiopia called Afar. After Aksum, Lalibela is modern Ethiopia most holy city and a center of pilgrimage for much of the country. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is very nearly 100% Ethiopian Orthodox Christian.
This rural town is known around the world for its monolithic churches, which were built during the reign of Saint Lalibela (a member of the Zagwe Dynasty who ruled the Ethiopian Empire after the depredations of Queen Gudit in the late 1100s and early 1200s. Contrary to certain spurious myths, the great rock-hewn churches of Lalibela were not built with the help of the Knights Templar and are proud monuments of medieval Ethiopian civilization. (This is testified to by the presence of many architectural decorations and styles similar to those of the ancient Ethiopian capital city of Aksum.)
During Lalibela's reign, the current town of Lalibela was town as Roha. "Lalibela" itself means "the bees recognise his sovereignty." The saintly king was given this name due to a swarm of bees that surrounded him at his birth, which his mother took as a sign of his future reign as Emperor of Ethiopia. The names of several places in the modern town and the general layout of the monolithic churches themselves are said to mimic names and patterns observed by Lalibela during the time he spent in Jerusalem and the Holy Land as a youth.
- Lalibela, a city carved from legend
- History of Lalibela churches
- UNESCO World Heritage Site
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