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       The History                             Updated  16 March 2016 

  Lalibela got its name from the famous Zagwe king who reigned about 1185 AD.    The Zagwe dynasty had come to power in the eleventh century, one hundred years after queen Judith. She was a ferocious woman-warrior who led her tribes up from the Simien mountains to destroy Axum, the capital of the ancient Ethiopian empire in the north.


         The most popular Cross in Lalibela


  The  Zagwe kings ruled until the thirteenth century, when a famous priest, Tekla Haymanot, persuaded them to abdicate in favor of a descendant of the old Axumite Solomonic dynasty.    Now according to historical events, king Lalibela was in fact in Jerusalem, head of the Ethiopian priests. At the time Jerusalem fall to the Salahedin forces around 1115AD and all knights were thrown out of Jerusalem. King Lalibela send emissaries to him and for some reason Salahedin respected the Christian holy sites and left the Ethiopians in charge !

  According to Graham Hancock’s book the ‘Sign & the Seal’ the knights of the holy temple called the ‘Templars’ while restoring the Holy sites, they looked every where for the Arc of the Covenant, the Case where Moses kept the stone tablets, without any success. Most probably king Lalibela mentioned to them that  the Arc of the covenant is kept somewhere in Ethiopia…  



 So for different reasons they all came back together to the kingdom of Roha, where Lalibela claimed the throne (having some 100 knights with him.) from his older brother. The Templars  being perfect Church builders most probably were persuaded by king Lalibela to build the now famous rock hewn Churches as the pilgrims could not travel to Jerusalem any more.


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  Some of the Churches have the Templar’s double 
Cross carved on top or at  the entrance.