Axum

Axumite Kingdom which has a 3000 years history, was one of the great civilizations of the ancient world and Capital of the most glorious empires of the past and has left us many attention-grabbing monolithic stone steles and obelisks which are carved from a single piece of granite, The largest obelisk, which was 35 meters long and weighed 500 tons, is the biggest piece of stone ever cut by humanity any where in the world but today it lies broken on the ground. Near it stands a smaller but nevertheless most inspiring 24-metre-high obelisk – the pride of Ethiopia. A somewhat larger high obelisk was taken to Rome, on the orders of the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, in 1937; but all three section of the 1,700-year old Axum obelisk has arrived back in Ethiopia, 68 years later after it was looted by Italian fascists. It was eventually dismantled into three pieces in 2004 in preparation for its journey back to home, an operation which is costing Italy an estimated 6 million Euros (£4.1 million).

Its treasures can still be pictured on the magnificent obelisks, the graves of Kings Kaleb and Gebre Meskel, The centre of early Christianity in Ethiopia and the Legendary Bath of the Queen of Sheba. The 16th century Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion was built in the compound of an earlier 4th century church, and is the holiest church in Ethiopia. In its sanctuary is said to rest the original Ark of the Covenant. The churches and monasteries of Axum are richly endowed with icons, and some of the historical crowns of ancient Emperors of Ethiopia.

The Axum, in its day, was a great commercial centre, issuing its own currency and trading with Egypt, Arabia, Persia, India and even Ceylon. Most of the Christians belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, whose 4th Century beginnings came long before Europe accepted Christianity. A chapel within the church compound is believed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to house the Ark of the Covenant (see Graham Hancock’s The Sign and the Seal).one full day is enough to visit all the attractions in Axum but spending more days will allow one experience the surrounding attractions of Yeha Temple, Debre-Damo which has a very remarkable treasures and history like that of Axum.