Ethiopia: Tour 2Lalibela
The destruction of Axum plunged Ethiopia into chaos. For a time, the Axumite dynasty, restored, continued to claim to rule as "negasts," "king of kings," but in reality the Axumite empire split into small, feudal kingdoms. This era ended in 922 when Mera Tekla Haimanot proclaimed himself emperor, displacing his son-in-law, the supposed emperor. He moved the capital 300 kilometers south and started the Zagewe dynasty that went from 922-1268. The word "Zagwe" means "from the Agew." The Axumites had conquered the Agew region and converted the people to Orthodoxy and cultural practices. The Agew copied the culture of their northern brethren and eventually usurped power. The Agew, like the Axumites, spoke a Semitic language. Gradually, the Zagwe dynasty became more and more concerned with religion and power slipped away. The most famous of the Zagwe kings, Lalibela, built the rock-hewn churches featured on this page and which took a good part of his lifetime to construct. Eventually, opposition to the Zagwe centered around the descendants of the last of the Axumite kings. With a force composed of most of the surrounding provinces, the Axumites, in fact Amhara, marched on the Zagwe kings. Lalibela became, once more a sleepy mountain village though, also, a site of pilgrimmages and a World Heritage Site.
Here's a priest standing near one of the churches under reconstruction. As a world heritage site, the WTO is rebuilding it.
Links: Related Ethiopian Tours: Back to Tour 1: Axum