the top tourist attraction in all of Ethiopia, even with the recent price hike (from 350 birr to 910 per person entry) it is well worth it. This magnificent collection of 11 churches is worth the $50 fee and definitely opt for a guide. You can get for as low as 150birr/person depending on group size. We paid 250 birr for 1 full day (2 people out of a group of 4) that was worth every penny. Far more info than any book could provide and a pathway that I could never imagine without a guide (70m traverse in the pitch black underground tunnels of the eastern group was a great experience. The churches themselves are a great testament to the engineering genius of king lalibela who even worked on them himself with chisel in hand, improving design from first to the 11th during the 23 year construction period.
These churches were built 12th century by King Lalibela who saw in a dream the vision to create a "new Jerusalem" in the city of Roha. During a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, his jealous younger brother attempted to poison him. When the food taster vomited, dogs who are the vomit died causing the king to feel guilty and proceed to eat the food anyways to which he proceeded to sleep 3days with this vivid dream. Upon seeing king Lalibela awaken, his brother recognized a miracle and asked for forgiveness. It's said that 40,000 workers helped to build these 11 churches (their form of tax) though our guide questioned this given that 900yrs later the population is only 30,000 still
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