Everywhere you look in Lalibela - a sort of place before time, was a photo waiting to be captured (above).
Lalibela, World Heritage Site, home of 11 rock-hewn churches (below); a "must see" city before you die.
My fabulous tour guide (all these tour guides you just meet on the street) Kassa Zemene (in the black shirt) took me to the Churches, introduced me to his friends, and even joined me for dinner at a restaurant, where unbelievably enough, I ran into my dad's tennis buddy, retired York High School teacher Keith Olson. (Kassa and Keith are both on Facebook).
The history of Lalibela begins with King Lalibela, who as a child visited heaven and came back to have his craftsmen build a replica of what the angels showed him- 11 churches carved out of the stone in the ground to replicate Jerusalem, which was pretty much partitioned off from outsiders. King Lalibela told his Christian parishioners that to worship in Lalibela was to worship in Jerusalem. The videos below range from seven minutes to an hour in length and tell this story well.
My only regrets about seeing this remarkable and charming town was that I didn't go to the market. Talk about a step into the past! Whenever you travel, try to go to the market; it's where you get a true look at the local culture.
I only spent two days in Lalibela because I was off on a plane to Axum right away. Next time I go--and there willbe a next time- I will plan to spend more time so I can hang out with the locals more, visit all 11 churches and hear the history of the town from the townspeople themselves, rather than from guides. I would also try to time my visit with one of the major festivals/ceremonies which occurs. For instance, at Christmas, 70,000 pilgrims journey to the site to worship!