French project to rescue Lalibela rock-hewn churches kicks off

French Project _ Ethiopia
Franck Riester and his entourage taking off shoe before entering church. Photo credit : EBC

September 18, 2019

Franck Riester, Minister of Culture of the French Republic, is in Ethiopia for two days official working visit.

On Wednesday, he oversaw the official launch of project to rescue Ethiopia’s historical, cultural and religious treasure – the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela which was built sometime in the 12th century.

A UNESCO registered heritage which amounts to Jerusalem to the believers of Ethiopian church (Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church), the churches were carved out of a single stone underground.   

France is paying for the cost of the entire project apart from providing professionals capable of handling the delicate task of rescuing the church while preserving its original architecture and look.

Team of experts who will work in the project is expected to arrive next to arrive in Ethiopia and head to Lalibela to identify damages to the churches.

Ethiopia and France have signed a cooperation agreement in the areas of culture and preservation of historical artifacts.

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