Heritage, Tourism, and Urbanization: The Landscape Development of Lalibela, Ethiopia

A sustainable future for Lalibela is contingent upon balancing issues of rapid urban growth, increasing tourism, natural and cultural resource protection, spiritual worship, and community quality of life. To explore these challenges and how they might be addressed, faculty from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (Columbia GSAPP) and from Addis Ababa University’s Chair of Conservation of Urban and Architectural Heritage, Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction, and City Development (AAU-EiABC) collaborated with World Monuments Fund to develop a student research project at Lalibela. By collecting and analyzing field and historical data to better understand the site and the town of Lalibela, as well as its users, this research identifies key findings and makes recommendations that can inform future research and planning. The long-term aim is to support the sustainable development of Lalibela—while also preserving its tangible and intangible values—by providing a more robust, evidence-based foundation for decision-making.


This publication was made possible by World Monuments Fund, through the generous support of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, the US Embassy in Ethiopia, and the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.

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