Lalibela is located approximately 370 miles (600 kilometers) north of Addis Ababa in the Amhara Region, situated at an altitude of 8,200 feet (2,500 meters). In its center lies a unique complex of 11 churches cut out of the living rock some 800 years ago. Their construction is attributed to King Lalibela (approximately 1181-1221), of the Zagwe dynasty. The churches are still used for daily worship and special ceremonies, receiving pilgrims and large crowds during holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
The churches, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978, are sculpted out of solid volcanic rock and are often connected by long underground tunnels and trenches. The main cluster of 11 churches is divided in two groups: a northern group with five churches and an eastern group with another five, while Biet Gyorgis, perhaps the most famous, is an isolated church.