Cities of the Underworld – Ethiopia, the other Holy Land

Cities of the Underworld – Ethiopia, the other Holy Land

In the 4th century are the first conversions to Christianity in Ethiopia. By the 12th century it was the dominant religion and people would go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Because of the crusades at this time and the Muslim control of the holy land, King Lalibela, who had a dream that God told him to build a safe haven for his people, created a new holy city in Lalibela.

He had 11 churches built and sunken 50 feet below the ground. The tops of the churches are level with the ground. The churches were dispersed through three areas that were significant in Jesus’ life. Six of the churches were clustered together to represent Jerusalem, 4 to represent Bethlehem, and I for the River Jordan.

The religion practiced is Ethiopian Orthodox, where the beliefs are Christian, but many of the practices are Jewish. In each of the churches is a replica of the Ark of the Covenant.

Axum was a powerful civilization between the 1st and 7th centuries. The Axiomites traced their lineage to King Solomon and believe that his son brought the Ark of the Covenant to Axum where it is stilled house in a church under the watch of guardians.

In Axum are 120 obelisks to mark the graves of Axiomite royalty who were buried in decorated tombs, with possessions just as Egyptian pharaohs were.

1087 Yamana Christos had a church built inside of a cave. This was also his final resting place and many people make pilgrimages here and choose to die here.

Tigray Mountain is where an Ethiopian Orthodox Sect built a church in the cliffs. This church in a cave, 9000 feet up in the cliffs was created by 9 saints who fled Constantinople. They believed that Jesus was wholly divine, not part divine and part human as many Christians did, so they were branded as heretics and fled.


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