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Lalibela, a medieval settlement in the Lasta area of Wello, lies at the centre of an extensive complex of rock churches.Lalibela has 11 remarkable rock-hewn monolithic, semi-monolithic and cave built churches, built by one of the Zagwe Dynasty rulers,King Lalibela in the late 12th and early 13th century.

These notable structures are carved, inside and out, out of one solid rock, and are the unofficial eighth wonders of the world. Each building is architecturally unique but each reflects beautifully executed craftsmanship, and several are decorated with fascinating paintings.

Four are completely free-standing, attached only to the surrounding rock by their bases. These are Beta Medhane Alem, the House of the Savior of the World; Beta Ghenetta Mariam, the House of Mary; Beta Ammanuel, the House of Emanuel; and Beta Ghiorghis, the House of St George. Although their individual dimensions and configurations are extremely different, the churches are all built from great blocks of stone, sculptured to resemble normal buildings and wholly isolated within deep courtyards. They represent, as one authority has put it, the ultimate in rock-church design.One is amazed at the technical skill, the material resources and the continuity of effort.which such vast undertakings imply.



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