LalibelaÂ (Amharic:Â áˆ‹áˆŠá‰ áˆ‹) is a town inÂ Amhara Region, Ethiopia famous for itsÂ rock-cutÂ monolithic churches. The whole of Lalibela is a large antiquity of the medieval and post-medieval civilization ofÂ Ethiopia.Â Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, second only toÂ Axum, and a center ofÂ pilgrimage. Unlike Axum, the population of Lalibela is almost completelyÂ Ethiopian Orthodox Christian.
Ethiopia was one of the earliest nations to adopt Christianity in the first half of the fourth century, and its historical roots date to the time of theÂ Apostles. The churches themselves date from the seventh to thirteenth centuries, and are traditionally dated to the reign of theÂ ZagweÂ kingÂ Gebre Mesqel LalibelaÂ (r. ca. 1181â€“1221).
The layout and names of the major buildings in Lalibela are widely accepted, especially by local clergy, to be a symbolic representation ofÂ 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 leaderÂ Saladin.
Lalibela is located in theÂ North Wollo ZoneÂ of theÂ Amhara Region, at roughly 2,500 meters (8,200Â ft) aboveÂ sea level. It is the main town inÂ LastaÂ woreda, which was formerly part ofÂ BugnaÂ woreda. The Rock-Hewn Churches were declared aÂ World Heritage siteÂ in 1978.