Lalibela is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to 11 medieval monolithic cave churches of the 13th-century 'New Jerusalem.' The churches are grouped into two. The first group lie to the north of the river Jordan: Biete Medhani Alem (House of the Saviour of the World), Biete Mariam (House of Mary), Biete Maskal (House of the Cross), Biete Denagel (House of Virgins), Biete Golgotha Mikael (House of Golgotha Mikael). The second group are south of the river, Biete Amanuel (House of Emmanuel), Biete Qeddus Mercoreus (House of St. Mercoreos), Biete Abba Libanos (House of Abbot Libanos), Biete Gabriel Raphael (House of Gabriel Raphael), and Biete Lehem (House of Holy Bread). The eleventh church, Biete Ghiorgis (House of St. George), is isolated from the others, but connected by a system of trenches.
The churches were hewn from the living rock. Vast monolithic blocks were chiselled out, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, roofs etc. Drainage ditches, trenches and ceremonial passages, some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs were then added - an incomprehensible volume of work.
Lalibela is situated in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia - it's a magical place, a centre for Ethiopian Christianity, and a place of pilgrimage and devotion.