"Gezahegne, 22, an academic at Addis Ababa University, was making her first pilgrimage to Lalibela one recent Sunday and was in no doubt about its potential to attract Christians and non-believers alike. "Most people know about the famine but not the historic sites," she said. "If the tourism bureau can advertise it, it can be a good source of income."
"The 11 Ethiopian Orthodox churches here have to be seen – and walked through – to be believed. They were built in the 13th century on the orders of King Lalibela, not from the ground up but chiselled out of the town's red volcanic rock hills. Legend has it that the toil of thousands of labourers on this "new Jerusalem" during the day was continued by angels at night.
"The last church to be completed, the Bet Giyorgis, or Church of St George, is shaped like a cross, freestanding inside a deep pit, so to reach the entrance visitors must climb down awkward, crowded stone steps. Inside, among the bibles, candles and holy water, there are intricate carvings and reliefs of exquisite detail..."