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LALIBELA

Perched at an altitude of 2630 m, among wild craggy mountains and vast rocky escarpments, Lalibela is a strikingly singular town famed for its 12 th century rock-hewn churches. No matter if you've visited other rock-hewn churches in the rest of the world; nothing will prepare you for these.

At the end of the 12 th and beginning of the 13 th centuries, King Lalibela of the Zaghwe dynasty built a series of rock hewn churches, carved into the rugged mountainsides. There are 11 churches in the town named after him, with others in the surrounding countryside.

The Lalibela churches are carved below ground level and they are ringed by trenches and courtyards and connected to each other by a tangled maze of tunnels and passages. In size and scope, the church complex feels like a subterranean village. These churches are, and what they have been for at least 800 years, an active Christian shrine, and the spiritual centre of a town's religious life.

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