Inspiring creative writing through travel and photography


Biete Giyorgis – said to be the most finely executed and well preserved

Also known as St. George, the church is believed to have been the last to be constructed. According to myth, King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela constructed this master piece after receiving instruction from God. This cultural belief could be related to the biblical account of Noah, who received instruction from God to build an Ark. Biete Giyorgis is a replica of the Ark, with three tiers marked on the interior wall. Four walls protrude outward to form the famous St. George’s Cross. The church is isolated from the other two main clusters of churches.  Whatever could have motivated the construction of this outstanding piece of history, the architecture is extraordinary. It was carved out of one single rock from the top to bottom. The intricate pieces on the roof do not just form the cross but are narrow engravings that allow for water drainage. Like a small version of a labyrinth, the courtyard has a huge outlet to leave the building intact even in the case of heavy downpour. Inside the church are elements that have been in existence since the 12th or 13th century, when the construction of the church could have been done. Among these pieces is a medium sized wooden chest that was first carved to replicate the church, some sort of blue print. At the end of the day, the sun sets over the huge cross and forms beautiful silhouettes in the courtyard.  

Biete Giyorgis

Photo credit: Kafula Mwila-

From afar, the cross looks like it is carved on the surface of the rock, as one approached, you will be able to see that this intriguing piece of architecture is actually a larger piece that sinks all the way into the rock. The view around it is breath taking, an environment that complements the beauty of the church.


The wooden chest, which was carved before the construction of St. Giyorgis by King Lalibela, as he received instructions from God on how to build the church.

Sunset over St. Giyorgis

Photo credit: Kafula Mwila-

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