The holy ancient city of Lalibela is famed for its 11 rock-hewn churches and named for the 12th century Zagwe king Gebre Mesqel Lalibela. After Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgramages to the holy land, King Lalibela set out to construct a symbolic version of Jerusalem, the ‘New Jerusalem’.
The Lalibela churches are carved from soft volcanic rock, some cut into the face of a cliff, and others in carved pits accessed by long passages or trenches. With 5 aisles, Biete Medhani Alem is believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world. Lalibela is a significant site of Ethiopian Christianity, and today, the churches are attended by Coptic priests. Lalibela is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Between 2005-2009 the Zamani Project undertook four field campaigns to Lalibela and acquired over 1200 terrestrial laser scans. The structures documented include: Biete Golgotha, Biete Abba Libanos (House of Abbot Libanos), Biete Denagel (House of Virgins), Biete Debre Sina, Biete Amanuel (House of Emmanuel), Biete Gabriel Raphael (House of Gabriel Raphael), Biete Ghiorgis (House of St. George), Biete Hariett, Biete Lehem (House of Holy Bread), Biete Mariam (House of Mary), Biete Maskal (House of the Cross), Biete Medhani Alem (House of the Saviour of the World), Biete Qeddus Mercoreus (House of St. Mercoreos) and Adams Tomb.
Biete Ghiorgis has been cut of out sandstone rock and sits inside a steep cliff face.
Biete Abba Libanos has been cut of out sandstone rock and sits inside a steep cliff face.