Refurbishment to Begin on Monolithic Lalibela Rock-hewn Churches

Addis Ababa December 12/2018  Preparations are being underway to launch the restoration of Monolithic Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, according to Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH).

The refurbishment work is expected to be completed in three years  in collaboration with various domestic and international institutions,  keeping with its original values.

The Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela, which are a cultural UNESCO world heritage sites, have suffered damage because of their age and in 2008 a metal roof was erected as temporary solution to protect possible cracks and damages caused by sun slights.

Cultural Heritage Conservation Director, Hailu Zeleke told ENA that the reinstatement of Lalibela churches need painstaking studies before any actual restoration activities initiated in order to keep its originality.

The Bethe-Golgotha Michael pilot project which was inaugurated recently is being under-study, which is expected to play its critical role for the incoming similar projects.

“We have properly utilized the first experience of Bethe-Gabriel-Rufael for Bethe-Golgotha Michael which is the second pilot project. Now the experience we have gained from Bethe Golgotah Michal is being studied to find out the strong sides and to see things to be improved. The next step is to apply those encouraging experiences on other churches which are still under temporary shelters, Hailu pointed out.

Activities are underway in collaboration with the government led Construction Design and Supervision Institution before any actual rehabilitation program, which is the critical part on how to manage the restoration process, he noted.

Following the final document from the supervision, doors will open for standardized tender for international companies and the rehabilitation work will start soon on the Rock-hewn churches which are under temporary shelters, according to the director.

“Now we are working with consulting all stakeholders from the higher to the lower level. So there will be a steering committee which will be led by the minister of culture and tourism, including stakeholders like bethe-Kihnet and the regional state among others. This steering committee will provide all directions and approve every activity”.

There will be also a scientific committee which targeted to follow the technical parts of the restoration and consult the impact of the process on the values of heritage, it was stated.

Dr. Samuel Negash, a historian from Addis Ababa University said on his part that heritages are properties of the society. Societies are beneficiaries of the heritages despite the government have the big share of preserving those heritages.

“These heritages for us are sources of proud and symbols of civilization to show the rest of the world and how we were civilized before anyone reached at that level. So, these sources of proud and symbols of the nation must be remained with proper preservation”, he pointed out.

Moreover, civic associations, NGOs among others must be exerted their maximum efforts to restore and preserve the countries grand values, the expert emphasized.

 Experts on culture and tourism should be involved based on their capacity. Now we have to think of out of politics that means it needs mainly professionals of restoration of heritages. These need proper experts. For instance, the shelters of Lalibela which aimed at preserving the heritage are now a threat by itself. So it needs proper studies. I believe that experts, the government and all stakeholders including the society at large have the respnsiblty to preserve heritages”, the expert underlined.

The installation of metal shelters to protect a cluster of five sites in Lalibela from the elements has dried them out so much that they are crumbling, according to UNESCO.