Lalibela (Ethiopia)

Lalibela (Ethiopia)

Lalibela is an ancient religious center and a place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Ethiopians. The city was named after the 12th-13th century ruler Lalibela, who made Lalibela the capital of his kingdom. It is located in the northern part of the country.

According to, Lalibela is known for its temples, which were carved from the red volcanic tuff between the 12th and 13th centuries. There are 13 churches in total. Churches were erected after the Egyptians captured Jerusalem in 1187. King Lalibela wanted to turn the city into New Jerusalem, so many churches here are similar to those in Jerusalem. The temple complex was divided into two zones, which were separated by the Jerusalem River.. The local temples were carved either on the surface or in the rocks underground, all the churches are connected by underground passages and labyrinths. It will take several hours to see all the churches.

To a group of churches located north of the Jerusalem River, include Bete Medhane Alem, Bete Mariam, Bete Golgotha, Beta Mikael, Bete Meskel and Bete Gel. Bete Medhane Alem is the largest of the churches of the Lalibela temple complex and one of the largest rock churches in the world. Its base is 33.7 m long, 23.7 m wide and 11.6 m high. The church was built in the Greek style and is surrounded by 28 tall columns. Bete Medhane Alem is connected to Bete Maryam Church, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This is one of the oldest churches in the city. It stands in the center of a vast courtyard. The windows of the church are in the form of Roman and Greek crosses, and inside it you can see the remains of ancient frescoes. On the north side of the courtyard is the Bete Meskel Church, which is a vast gallery, divided into two parts next to 4 columns. Here you can see an ornament in the form of a cross and leaves. Bete Mariam is also connected by a tunnel to the Bete Denagel chapel. The chapel was erected in honor of the nuns killed in the middle of the 4th century by order of one of the Roman emperors. In addition, from Bete Mariam you can get to the churches of Bete Golgotha and Bete Mikael, which, together with the Selassie Chapel and the Tomb of Adam, form an extensive complex. Bete Golgotha is decorated with reliefs on the theme of the death of Jesus Christ. Bete Mikael is a copy of the Bete Golgotha church. It is believed that King Lalibela was buried here. Bete Golgotha is decorated with reliefs on the theme of the death of Jesus Christ. Bete Mikael is a copy of the Bete Golgotha ​​church. It is believed that King Lalibela was buried here. Bete Golgotha is decorated with reliefs on the theme of the death of Jesus Christ. Bete Mikael is a copy of the Bete Golgotha church. It is believed that King Lalibela was buried here.

In the southern group of churches is the most unusual church in the city – Bete Giyorgis. It is better preserved than other churches, and its roof is located at the level of the surface of the earth, and the base is located deep underground. The church can only be entered through an underground tunnel. Bete Georgis is carved in the form of a cruciform tower. Also worth seeing in this group of churches are Bete Amanuel, Bete Mercorios, Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel-Rufael.

It is best to go to Lalibela during the celebration of the Epiphany (Timket), which is celebrated on January 6th.

Dodom (Erta Ale) (Ethiopia)

The village of Dodom is located in the northeastern part of Ethiopia in the Danakil Desert (Afar Depression). It is located in the middle of a lava field at the foot of the most active volcano in the country – Erta Ale . The Danakil Desert is known for the fact that 25% of Africa’s active volcanoes are located here, because it is located within the East African Rift Zone, which was formed at the junction of lithospheric plates. These places amaze with their landscapes, similar to the moon: vast lava fields stretch here, among which cone-shaped and shield volcanoes rise.

The village of Dodom is the starting point for a trip to the volcano Erta Ale (the volcano is located 12 km from it). Hiking to the top of the volcano takes about 3 hours on average. At the top there is a camp where accommodation is offered. Erta Ale is the most active volcano in Ethiopia. Over the past 137 years, it has erupted 7 times (the 7th eruption began in 1967 and continues uninterruptedly to the present). The last increase in activity occurred on November 21-23, 2010, as a result of which the old lava lake was destroyed, but, at the same time, a new one began to form. The volcano belongs to the shield type, that is, it has gentle slopes that were formed as a result of the spreading of lava flows. Height of Erta Ale – 613 m. Its caldera is 0.7 km long and 1.6 km wide. There are two craters in the caldera – northern and southern. There is no liquid lava in the northern crater, only a solidified lava field. The activity of the volcano here is reminiscent of audible underground “gurgles” and gas escaping outward. In the southern crater, until November 21, 2010, there was an active lava lake, incandescent lava constantly burst to the surface in its various places and actively seethed, throwing out clouds of gases. This sight was especially beautiful at night, when the lava turns fiery red. In total, there were 4 such lava lakes in the world (the other three are in Antarctica, on the Hawaiian Islands and in the Congo).

South of the village of Dodom , Lake Afrera is interesting where the locals – Afars – have been extracting salt since ancient times. Salt is extracted by evaporation of water and taken away on camels for sale in the markets of the cities of the Ethiopian highlands. On the shore of the lake there is a hot spring where you can swim.

Lalibela (Ethiopia)


About the author