10 Reasons Everyone Should Visit Lalibela

  1. Rock-hewn Churches

Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s most iconic destinations. The UNESCO enlisted rock-cut monolithic churches of king Lalibela have been built over 800 years ago. There are 11 churches located within this amazing cultural heritage complex.
Back in the early 4th Century, several Ethiopian ethnic groups were among the first ones that adopted Christianity. The four kings of Zagwe dynasty left some remarkable traces in ancient Ethiopia. The most famous of them was king Lalibela.

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  1. Festivals

Festivals in Lalibela are immersive, wholeheartedly embraced by locals, rich in tradition, picturesque and vividly distinctive. In short, they are a must experience.

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  1. Lalibela Artisans

The legend says that all Lalibela churches were built by king Lalibela himself with the help of angels. An alternative interpretation by historians and scientists would be that it took anywhere between 10 to 40 thousand people to build 11 churches in 23 years.

These hand-crafting skills are still in the genes of Lalibelian people. Pottery makers, weavers, leather goods producers are spotted all around the place.

lal3Leather products by Tadesse                                 Crafts by St. Lalibela Association

lal5Handicrafts by Roha Association

  1. Lalibela Painters

King Lalibela is also recognized for paintings which adorn some of the churches. Nowadays, Lalibela has an emerging art scene, waiting to be explored. We met numerous local painters who inspire with love and passion for their art.

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Art by Hailemariam Tadesse

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Art by Smachew Mesfin

lal7Art by Tizazu

  1. Peace

It seems that because of 800 years of continuous spiritual ceremonies, Lalibela is impregnated with peace, reflected in local people.

lal8Our trusted guide Endayene Ayalew

  1. People

We were particularly charmed by people of Lalibelia – hoteliers, receptionists, drivers, waitresses, guides, artisans, people on the streets, young and old, most of them radiating unique calmness, kindness and warmth.

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  1. Great Hikes

Nature lovers will enjoy hikes to surrounding mountains, reaching over 3,000 m.a.s.l.. One of our favourites was the hike to Asheten Mariam church high in the mountains above Lalibela where king Lalibela’s prayers to locate the rock-hewn churches from his vision were heard. 

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  1. Amazing Vistas

Pictures speak for themselves. 

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  1. Honey

Ethiopia is known to be the biggest producer of honey in Africa and Lalibela is its honey capital. The land of “honey-eaters” which is the meaning of the word Lalibela, offers delicious varieties of honey in all tastes and colours, from near-white through yellow, gold, amber, dark brown, either liquid or creamed. Delicious!

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  1. Coffee Ceremonies and Great Organic Food

We tried several simple street coffee shops, decorated with grass on the floor and incensed with a pleasant odour of burning wood. Their coffee was without any exception always tasty.

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We were also lucky to enjoy local cuisine at Honey Land Hotel, made from fresh ingredients, served with care.

Lalibela is one of those rare places in the world where tourism is still truly authentic, where moments are savoured and where inner peace is a value!

Good to know:

There are several morning flights to Lalibela from Addis Ababa, operated by Ethiopian Airlines. Lalibela and Gondar are also well connected. Special discount can be obtained, if your international flight is operated by Ethiopian Airlines.

End of September is a good time for visiting Lalibela. After the rainy season, the landscape turns green. October is one of the peak seasons. Lalibela is also very popular among Ethiopians for Christmas celebrations in January.

Foreign visitors’ entrance fee of 50$ to Lalibela churches is valid for 5 days. To comprehend the amazing story behind the churches, it is highly recommendable to explore them with local guides. 

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