Day Trips: Churches & Monasteries

Many fascinating churches and monasteries lie in the stunning countryside within a day’s striking distance of Lalibela. They vary greatly in style, design and age and offer a different experience from the churches in town. Tucked away and still absent from most modern maps, many require a guide to find them. The journey, whether by foot, mule or vehicle, to these sites is rewarding. If you didn’t arrive in Lalibela with a 4WD and driver, ask your hotel or guide about renting one.

Yemrehanna Kristos

Despite Yemrehanna Kristos being one of Ethiopia’s best-preserved late-Aksumite buildings, few people reward themselves with a visit. And a reward it is. The church is

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Arbatu Ensessa

On the way to Yemrehanna Kristos, around 35km from Lalibela, is this three-quarter monolith church in a wild, overgrown but rather beautiful setting. It’s thought

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Bilbila Chirkos

Near Arbatu Ensessa, 41km off the Yemrehanna Kristos road, this is an interesting three-quarter monolith known particularly for its ancient frescoes. Attributed to King Kaleb,

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Ashetan Maryam

Top choice monastery in Lalibela Set at 3150m, atop Abune Yosef mountain, is this monastery where the local priests believe they’re ‘closer to heaven and God’, and

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Na’akuto La‘ab

Lying 7km from Lalibela, just off the airport road, is this simple but attractive church (apart from the outer security wall). It’s attributed to King

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Geneta Maryam

Geneta Maryam is thought to have been built around 1270 by Yekuno Amlak, who restored the Solomonic line. With its rectangular shape and 20 massive

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