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Zagwe

The Zagwe Dynasty
The fall of Axum resulted in 'Ethiopia forgetting the world, and being forgotten by the outside world'.
A new dynasty, comprising of six kings and one queen, came to power in the Christian highlands, based in the Agew district of Lasta.

The Agew language was the result of long time cultural and political interactions between Cushitic and Semitic speaking peoples in the northern highlands.

LALIBELA
Altitude: 2630m
The Eighth wonder of the world
The 2nd Jerusalem

To fill the spiritual void created by the inability to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, King Lalibela, took it upon himself to construct 'New Jerusalem' here at home and built a number of churches.

The churches were often modeled after Christian religious edifices in the Holy Land.
The eleven churches at Lalibela, were excavated from solid rock with an immense underground maze of tunnels and passages.
There are two main groups of churches, with another church dedicated to Saint George a short distance away.
The style is remarkably similar to the numerous rock-hewn churches of Tigray, but the sheer masterpiece in craftsmanship is quite wonderful.

These churches were so perfect that they were considered by some as 'The eighth wonder of the world', and became one of UNESCO's world heritage sites.

Lalibela is still revered as a saint. His tomb and the city itself draw thousands of pilgrims every year.

A volume could be said about Lalibela and the churches he built, but this is one of those things that have to be seen to be believed.
It is understandable why the believers attribute the site selection, speed of building, and superb architecture to divine intervention.

Other Zagwe Churches
The following rock churches can be visited with an Excursion from Lalibela.

Asheten Mariam monastery:
This 13th century monastery is built on a ridge, at an altitude of 3150 metres, about 8 kms from Lalibela.
The road to this monastery is steep, but the beautifull scenery is rewarding.
Inside the monastery you find the many hand and processional crosses of King Naakuto Leab who ruled Ethiopia for 40 years just after king Lalibela.
Mule ride to this rock hewn monastery takes about 4 hours.

Naakuto LeAb Monastery: 1270 AD
This church is built, rather than excavated, within a cave: it is carved into the face of a cave.
King Naakuto Leab abdicated his throne in 1270 AD and went to a cave to lead the life of a hermit. This cave has ever since become a monastery and has a dramatic setting.
It houses one of the most interesting collections of ancient crosses, illuminated manuscripts and other icons some of which are attributed to its founder, Naakuto LeAb.

Yemrehanne Kristos - Let Christ show us the Way: 1087 - 1127
This church is built, rather than excavated, within a cave and is located 42km north-east of Lalibela town.
The church is similar to the Axumite wood and stone construction.
It is celebrated for its interior decoration. It sits atop a foundation of olive-wood panels and features white-washed marble panel exteriors.
It is one of the most incredible churchs outside of Lalibela.
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