New Jerusalem, Ethiopia: People walk hundreds of kilometres to see this site; Kirrily Schwarz;

Ethiopia – Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela

IT’S impossible to see until you’re standing right on top of it, and even then it takes a moment for the significance to register.

The roof is level with the ground, and carved to look like a Greek Orthodox Church. Pilgrims dressed in white gather around, close but not too close. The cross is in the middle of a man-made crater, and there’s a 12-metre drop to the bottom.

The church of St George was carved from solid rock in the 12th century. It’s one of 11 churches near the village of Lalibela, nestled in the hills of northern Ethiopia. The churches are connected by a maze of tunnels, complete with hermit caves and catacombs.

Some refer to it as “New Jerusalem”.

When the original holy city was captured by Muslims in 1187, King Lalibela ordered a second one be built.

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