The Sunken Rock Hewn church of Bet Giyorgis (St  George), Lalibela, Northern Ethiopia, Ethiopia, Africa

Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery

Bet Giyorgis

Top choice in Lalibela

When you think of Lalibela, you're thinking of Bet Giyorgis. Resting off on its own, St George’s Church is Lalibela’s masterpiece. Representing the apogee of the rock-hewn tradition, it's the most visually perfect church of all, a 15m-high three-tiered plinth in the shape of a Greek cross – a perfectly proportioned shape that required no internal pillars. Due to its exceptional preservation, it also lacks the obtrusive roofing seen over the other churches.

Inside, light filters in from the windows and illuminates the ceiling’s large crosses – beauty in simplicity. Peer over the curtain to see the maqdas’ beautiful dome. There are also two 800-year-old olive-wood boxes (one with opposing corkscrew keys) that locals believe were carved by King Lalibela himself and now hold the church’s treasures. Some of the cavities in the walls surrounding the church hold mummified corpses, and note the exquisite 16th-century canvas depicting St George slaying the dragon.

Plan to visit a number of times, including in the hour before sunset for good photos from above.

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