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Lalibela and Taktsang

Updated on March 1, 2013
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

Famous Places

OK, so we have all heard of the fantastic work Incas did at Machu Picchu. We have heard of the great work of the Egyptians with the Pyramids and the Chinese with the Great Wall.

Why though, do we rarely hear about Lalibela in Ethiopia or The Tigers Nest in Bhutan? These too are magnificent feats of building and they too could not have been built overnight.

Lalibela Churches

Shaped in a Cross
Shaped in a Cross
Complete with Courtyards
Complete with Courtyards
Not Just Facades
Not Just Facades


 Situated in the north of the country, Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities. A total of 11 Churches are hewn from the rocks.

None of these Churches were “built”; they were each carved from the mountainside.

Each Church is complete with naves, aisles, altars and even courtyards. Even the temples in Egypt are only carved facades with simple caves behind.

It is said that in 1187, when Jerusalem was captured by the Islamic Saracens, led by Saladin the great Sultan of Egypt, King Lalibela, the leader of Ethiopia, had a dream.

In this dream he was visited by Angels. The Angels gave him a vision of a New Jerusalem in Ethiopia. It is also said, that these Angels assisted the stonemasons in their work.

These churches certainly display some masterly masonry work. The roofs slant, as do gutters and the floors of the courtyards, enabling there to be no risk of flooding during the heavy summer rains.

The Tigers Nest

Shrouded in Clouds
Shrouded in Clouds
In the Mountain Kingdom of Bhutan
In the Mountain Kingdom of Bhutan


In the 8th century, Guru Padmasamabhava was said to of flown on the back of a Tiger, from Tibet to Bhutan, where he was able to convert the Bhutanese to Buddhism.

It is said that the Tiger carried him to cave in the side of a mountain in the upper Paro valley. He spent 3 months meditating in this cave.

In 1692 Tenzin Rabgye, said to be a reincarnation of Padmasamabhava, built a monastery at the entrance of the cave, which had become well known as a place for meditation.

Taktsang in Tibetan means Tiger’s Lair.

The monastery at the cave’s entrance today, is known as The Taktsang or Tigers Nest Monastery and is one of the most famous Tibetan Monasteries in Bhutan.


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    • Druid Dude profile image

      Druid Dude 5 years ago from West Coast

      Another good one. I knew about Ethiopia. Ever hear of Pumu Puku?

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      There was a time when much craftsmanship was devoted to temples and churches and considered special.