Bete Giyorgis – The Church of Saint George in Lalibela

Bete Giyorgis – The Church of Saint George in Lalibela

One of eleven rock-hewn monolithic churches in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia. Originally named Roha, the historical and religious site was named Lalibela after the King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela of the Zagwe dynasty, who commissioned its construction. He is regarded as a saint by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

The Church of Saint George was carved downwards from a type of volcanic tuff. This is the sole architectural material that was used in the structure. It has been dated to the late 12th or early 13th century AD, and thought to have been constructed during the reign of King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, of the late Zagwe dynasty.

One of several rock-hewn churches in the city in a unique underground locale reached by tunnel / Image: ancient-origins.net

The dimensions of the trench are 25 meters by 25 meters by 30 meters, and there is a small baptismal pool outside the church, which stands in an artificial trench. On first approach the site appears wholly inaccessible, with sheer drops on every side and no access bridge. It is accessed via a very narrow man-made canyon, spiralling downwards, which changes to a tunnel close to the church, to further conceal its presence.


Featured Image: Bete Giyorgis from above / Image: Youtube



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