The largest monolithic (or rock-hewn) church is Bet Medhane Alem in Lalibela, Ethiopia. The structure measures 33.5 m (110 ft) long, 23.5 m (78 ft) wide and 11 m (36 ft) high. It was carved from volcanic rock in the 12th or 13th century AD by King Lalibela (1181-1221).
Bet Medhane Alem (‘Saviour of the World’) is one of 11 monolithic or rock-hewn churches in the Lalibela complex, known as ‘the Eighth Wonder of the World’. Perhaps the most famous of them is Bet Giyorgis, which is carved into the shape of a Greek cross and dedicated to St. George.
Archaeologists estimate that 40,000 workers would have been required to build the complex, however legend suggests that the churches are the work of angels.
There are also semi-monolithic churches, as well as churches built in caves.