UNESCO plans to conserve the Churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee discussed the state of conservation at the Lalibela in northern Ethiopia which is known by many in the country as 'the second Jerusalem'.
Lalibela, also known as 'Africa's Petra', is interesting in terms of historical, religious, architectural value and a centre of pilgrimage for priests and worshippers from across the world. Others sit quietly and pray or study the Bible.
Originally the town was the capital of the Zagwe dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries. It is now one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Aksum, with a population almost 100 percent Ethiopian Orthodox Christian.
The new name Lalibela came from an Ethiopian King who, legend has it, was instructed by Jesus Christ to build a second Jerusalem for African pilgrims.
At the end of the 11th century and beginning of the 12th, King Lalibela is believed to have ordered the building of 11 churches. The eleven churches were chiseled out of rock and their roofs all at ground level - the largest church is more than 12 metres (39 feet) high.
Orthodox Christians who live in Ethiopia navigate their way around the churches, treading carefully on the steep stone steps and through ancient tunnels linking the buildings.
The churches had been built for 800 years, torrential rain and blistering sunshine have taken their toll on the buildings which are starting to crumble and crack. So The U.N. World Heritage Committee is discussing the state of conservation of a number of sites with World Heritage status. They will conduct a vote to decide whether some of those sites should be designated as “in danger”.
It remains to be seen whether the U.N. The World Heritage Committee this week would designate the site to be “in danger”.
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