The Bet Giorgis is the most spectacular of all the rock hewn monolithic
churches of the Lalibela complex, Ethiopia's answer to Petra.
Without question, Lalibela is the most impressive man-made site in
sub-Saharan Africa with its 11 temples carved out of the cliffs and
quarries in the remote northern mountains of Ethiopia. It is also
the seat of the Ethiopian orthodox church and so paranoid about muslim
infiltration that the police survey and/or arrest anybody who looks
even remote muslim or arab that enters the town. The artistic
treasures and cultural relics make northern Ethiopia, with the possible
exception of Egypt, the most interesting country in Africa for culture
mavens, and especially those with an interest in religious
iconography. Nowhere else in Africa will you find such a unique
and vibrant culture with historical memory. Although Ethiopians
can be mighty annoying at times, they are definitely curiously
eccentric and a must-see on the continent.
A fairly young priest is the keeper for one of the Lalibela
An Ethiopian cross and a Holy Bible are kept safe at the Kibran Gabriel
monastery on an island on Tana Lake, not far from Bahir Dar.
One of the many fabulous full wall sized murals in one of the Lake Tana
monasteries, this one I believe from Ura Kidane Mihret. I love
the angels with afros!
The Tis Abay waterfall, not far downstream from the source of the White
The celebrated ceiling frescoes in the Debre Birhan Selassie church in
Two of the many castle ruins in the Fasil Ghebbi fortress in Gondar.
Minstrels belt out folk songs (a lot better than the mindnumbing
Ethiopian pop song drivel that the bus radios blast into your head a
thousand times over) for tips in a traditional Ethiopian cabaret.
I hung around in Ethiopia just long enough to experience the first day
of the 3rd millenium, year 2000 on the Ethiopian calendar (which is
unique like most aspects of Ethiopian culture). The festivities
in Gondar weren't all that thrilling, consisting mainly of drunk
adolescents running around town in packs blowing fireworks off of a
metal pan that they hold on top of their heads, but this Millenium Boy
doesn't seem to mind.
TO CENTRAL AND