The 19th century German philosopher Hegel said “Africa is no historical part of the world.”
The Axumite Empire accepted Christianity as a state religion in the 4th century. It traded with Rome, Egypt and Persia. Not Germany though, because at the time, let’s see, yep, Germany was no part of the historical world.
Lalibela’s cathedrawere built in the 12th century when the Crusades made travel to the Holy Land dangerous. King Lalibela wanted his people to have a safe place for pilgrimage. His vision endures.
On Christmas and Easter, worshippers from across the country come to Lalibela, many of them walking for days. They take part in religious ceremonies unchanged over centuries. Visitors describe the experience as profound, like stepping back in time.
In Vogue magazine, journalist Melissa Twigg writes:
“Lalibela deserves to top our bucket lists and grace our travel magazine covers. Yet part of its charm lies in its mystifying lack of foreign visitors.”
Tourists are warmly welcomed and their numbers grow each year. But Lalibela will always be first and foremost a sacred space.