The Sacred Rock Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia

by Zelalem

Morning light seeps into a cave of pastel-red rock to silhouette the white linens of chanting worshipers. It’s an everyday scene in Lalibela, home to the rock-hewn Ethiopian Orthodox churches only found here, but to a visitor, it can feel like a scene from another era: Priests read from prayer books made of animal hide and devotees rattle sistrums that punctuate ancient chants. Just as the particulars of the masses held here have hardly changed from generation to generation, the eleven intertwined churches stand today largely unaltered from when they were first carved out of volcanic rock some 900 years ago.

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