Lalibela (Amharic: ላሊበላ) is a town in Amhara Region, Ethiopia famous for its rock-cut monolithic churches. The whole of Lalibela is a large antiquity of the medieval and post-medieval civilization of Ethiopia. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, second only to Axum, and a center of pilgrimage. Unlike Axum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian.
Ethiopia was one of the earliest nations to adopt Christianity in the first half of the 4th century, and its historical roots date to the time of the Apostles. The churches themselves date from the 7th to 13th centuries, and are traditionally dated to the reign of the Zagwe king Gebre Mesqel Lalibela (r. ca. 1181–1221).
The layout and names of the major buildings in Lalibela are widely accepted, especially by local clergy, to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem. This has led some experts to date the current church forms to the years following the capture of Jerusalem in 1187 by the Muslim leader Saladin.
Lalibela is located in the North Wollo Zone of the Amhara Region, at roughly 2,500 meters (8,200 ft) above sea level. It is the main town in Lasta woreda, which was formerly part of Bugna woreda. The Rock-Hewn Churches were declared a World Heritage site in 1978.
Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. Tourism may be international, or within the traveller’s country. The World Tourism Organization defines tourism more generally, in terms which go “beyond the common perception of tourism as being limited to holiday activity only”, as people “traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”.
Tourism can be domestic or international, and international tourism has both incoming and outgoing implications on a country’s balance of payments. Today, tourism is a major source of income for many countries, and affects the economy of both the source and host countries, in some cases being of vital importance.