Lalibela Rock-Cut Churches | Socks Studio
Lalibela is a mountainous area in Ethiopia famous for its a peculiar complex of twelve religious constructions built probably in the 12th or 13th century. These “Monolithic Churches” (Church of the Redeemer, of Saint Mary, of Mount Sinai, of Golgotha, of the House of the Cross, of the House of the Virgins, of Saint Gabriel, of Abba Matta, of Saint Mercurius, of Immanuel, of St. George) have been carved out of red volcanic rock in the Middle-ages probably for the will of King Lalibela. The local sovereign wished to found a a “New Jerusalem” after Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land was forced to stop due to Muslim conquest.
The twelve churches represent an exquisite example of a long-established Ethiopian building tradition and have been hewn out of monolithic rock: much is yet to discover about how the incredible work was executed, how many men it needed and which tools were employed, but it is common opinion, for churches like the Bet Giorgis (St George), that the workers would have started at the top and carved downwards creating the roof and the exterior walls of the church.Then they would have hollowed it out to give shape to the interiors and finally they would have further sculpted the rock to create doors, windows, columns and enriched the interiors with different details. The majestic work of carving was then completed by the construction of an extensive complex of drainage ditches, catacombs, caves and trenches in order to connect all the churches together in a maze-like underground system.