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11 Nov 2015

In the second half of the 12th century a prince was born into the heart of the Zagwe dynasty; the youngest of the ruling dynasty and the son of Zan-Siyum. According to legend, his mother observed one day that his cradle was covered by a swarm of bees, seeing this as a sign of his future greatness, she exclaimed “Lalibela!” which in Agew means “the bees recognize his sovereignty”.

King Lalibela established his capitol, Roha, in the mountains of Lasta and began to expand his kingdom. For 20 years , Lalibela quarried the red volcanic rock at Roha to build 10 churches. Legend says that angels came down from heaven either at night or at dawn to assist with the immense task.

King Lalibela sought to leave his kingdoms legacy by building the monolithic churches in Roha, with his extravagant religious creativity, building an imitation of Jerusalem making a safe replacement for pilgrims. There are 11 churches in Lalibela’s Jerusalem, although a small cave is now currently being considered as the 12th church. These churches are separated into two ; six to the north and four to the south and the eleventh church is that of saint George separated from both on the northern shore; by a small stream that carries only rain water and whose name, the Jordan (Yordanos), is immediately reminiscent of the holy land.

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