Visiting Aksum in Ethiopia
Aksum is not a very big city but it is considered to be one of the most historical places in Ethiopia. Many Emperors of the country were blessed from Aksum and even after the collapse of the kingdom, there were a lot of historical monuments that were lefts behind without being destroyed whereas others were rebuilt. Getting to Aksum has been made extremely easy because we help you arrange all that with our itineraries. There are a lot of things to do and places that you can visit when you visit Aksum and some of them include:
The tombs of King Gebre Meskel and King Caleb
The tombs of these two kings are located next to each other in the Northern stelae in Aksum. The two tombs that were made to look like the false door have self-locking locks and have some of the best architecture designs in Aksum. The tombs are open every day from 8:00am to 5:00pm every day but it is wise to first contact them and find out if they are open because sometimes the time can change.
King Caleb’s tomb is located on the Northern side and in order for one to get to it, you must use a small stair case. But unlike its twin tomb of the King Meskel this one is incomplete and the stones are not as attached as the ones found on the other tomb and this has led to various controversies of some locals believing that the body of the king Caleb was not buried there. When he left his throne he fled to the Abba Pentalewon monastery and most people believe that this is where he was buried and the tomb at Aksum is empty. And there is also a rumor that there is a tunnel under the tomb that actually leads to the Red sea although no one has been able to prove that it is there.
Between the two tombs the Gebre Meskel is the most elegant of all due to the fine finishing that you see on the grave. This is located on the northern side of the graves and it has a lot more to offer to tourists unlike the King Caleb grave. The Meskel tomb has five chambers to it but only one leads to where you will be able to view the three sarcophagi. The sarcophagi is decorated with traditional Aksum coins and crosses indicating Christianity.
Visit the field Stelae
The Field Stelae is located in Aksum and what makes it more entertaining to visit is that it is known to be a home to the Ark of the Covenant of God and the giant stelae. The Field stelae was believed to have been constructed around 500 after death although no one is so sure for how long it has been around. Some other locals say it was built as funeral monuments for former Axum leaders whereas others say that they were constructed for religious matters because some stelae have gutters leading away from them that were used to carry away the flowing blood that came from sacrifices.
The Stelae was constructed in a way that it resembled a building with windows and a false door at the base of the stelae. There are over 120 stelae in the Northern field and all these are carved with different symbols that is a circle can be seen at the apex of most of the stelae, the windows were carved in a way that they resemble crosses and the center of the stelae you will find four circles drawn together with a fifth one barely touching the outer circle of the four. All these symbols have meanings but it is said that they represent the heavens.
There are also other several things that the locals attach to the stelae in Aksum and some of these include:
- They are also related to the worship of the sun god referred to as Ra. Some locals have a legend that says that their ancestors constructed the stelae that high so that they could easily draw energy from the sun which was a way of worshiping Ra.
- The locals attach fertility of women to the stelae. They say that they are symbols that are connected to the fertility and anyone who has issues in that field can just go and pray from the stelae.
Even though the stelae are almost of the same height there are those that are significantly way taller than the rest and you should definitely look for them when you visit the Stelae.
- The tallest stelae rises up to 82 meters high and it was once taken to Rome for Examination but later brought back to Ethiopia.
- The second tallest stelae is known as the stelae of Ezana the first king of Aksum who converted to Christianity many years ago. It can be seen at the entrance into the Field stelae and it marks the day when he converted.
- The other famous stelae that you can look for is the one that has the craving of the Ark of the Covenant of God and it rises to a height of 9 meters. It has a symbol at its apex which is inform of a square and a triangle with two leaves supporting both.
The stelae are worth your visit because you will get to learn more about the Aksum heritage both religious and cultural. There are tour guides who will explain to you all that you will find and the locals who also live in the area will tell you more interesting stories about the Stelae.
St Mary of Zion church
The church was constructed in the 4th century and it is believed to be the oldest church on the African continent. The original church was constructed during King Ezana’s reign who was the first Christian King in the country and it has been destroyed and rebuilt very many times but it still shows the first elegance that it was built with.
The church is believed to have been constructed so that women could also get a place where they could pray from because most of the churches in the surrounding areas are off limits to them. It has modern settings due to the fact that it has been re constructed over and over again and you get to admire the inside of the church which is adorned with different paintings and also visit the museum that is located just outside church. But before you go to explore the church know that you are not allowed to take any photos while you are inside and all the cameras are turned off before you enter.
The Ark of the Covenant chapel
The Ark of the Covenant chapel is one of the best buildings that you get to see in Aksum although this is always done at a distance and this is because the chapel is off limits from people but it can still be admired. Locals say that once a tourist tried to jump over the fence and that is why all visitors stand far away from it and just take photos while listening to the stories about it from the tour guides.
The chapel is believed to be housing the ark of the covenant of God which was brought by the son of King Solomon to Ethiopia. There is only one priest who resides in the chapel and he never leaves it and incase of death another one is immediately appointed to protect the chapel.
The archeological Museum
The archeological museum is located next to the Field stelae and it has a lot of things that are kept in there to show the tradition of the Aksum people, paintings form different centuries and art craft that you will want to view although you will need to go with a tour guide as many of the things that are in the museum have not been translated into English and this will give you a hard time.
The Queen Sheba bath and palace
The locals in the area believe that the famous Queen Sheba originated form the Aksum people and lived in the palace that you will see when you visit the area. There is no historical proof that shows the beautiful queen lived in the Palace but nevertheless visiting the palace will give you a connection to the queen as you walk through her life with the tour guides.
Besides the palace you will find a large pool which is known to the locals as the Queen Sheba bath and it is considered by the locals Holy and the locals also say that the Queen Sheba used to have her normal and ablution baths from this same pool. It is located on the road side and you will be able to see many locals heading to the pool to fetch the dirty brown water which is Holy to them because it is the only source of water that is near them.
Tourist Attractions in Axum
As one of the religious towns in Ethiopia, there are some incredible churches in Axum. The church of St Mary of Zion is an Ethiopian Orthodox church believed to house the Ark of the Covenant from the Old Testament and the tablets of the Ten Commandments. The church was built in 1665.
The Obelisks are significant tourist sites in Axum Ethiopia. There are actually tall granite antiques numbering 126 in Axum. The obelisks were believed to have been constructed during 4th century as memoirs of the deceased kings whose tombs are not far from the historical monuments. The tallest obelisk (belonged to King Tutmossis) was 33m before it was destroyed while the tallest standing obelisk is 23m with window like structures, false doors and storeys to make it look like a real building. The stelea field or park has more than 8 obelisk and also has the graves for the different kings.
Other attractions in Axum include the ruins of the Palace of Queen Sheba who is believed to have lived here and several archaeological sites among others sites. The town is an acknowledged UNESCO World heritage site sinece 1980.
Axum is connected with domestic flights from Gondar and Addis Ababa with an airport (AXU). It is also accessed by bus from Gondar to Shire then Axum on a 2 hr journey
There are not many Ethiopia hotels in Axum but some standard accommodation facilities are available from Rambhai Hotel, Africa Hotel Ethiopia and Bazen hotel with budget Ethiopia Hotel accommodation. Other hotels with excellent Ethiopia cuisines and dining include Axum Ethiopia Touring Hotel, Yeha Hotel Ethiopia and Kaleb hotel among others.
Axum is an historical kingdom which flourished in north-eastern Africa from the First century BC up to the start of the Seventh century AD. Actually Axum is just 360 kilometers north of Gonder and it is the traditional city which was at one time Ethiopia’s capital. It is recognized for its historical as well as pre-historic artifacts. Myth has, that it was at one time the seat of the legendary Queen of Sheba also referred to as Makeda by the native Ethiopians); she ruled this region back in the Tenth century B.C.
The stunning Axum obelisks were designed from just one granite stone and they are the tallest monolithic artwork in the world. It is considered that they were constructed approximately 2000 years back. They are distinctive in their overall architectural beauty as well as mysterious past. in addition, Axum is referred to as an archaeological site in which you can see historic as well as pre-historic artifacts uncovered through continual excavations. All these items are exhibited inside the museum found at Axum.
The Ethiopian legendary the “Kibre Negest” (the “glory of kings”) informs us that Menilik I, who was the son of the legendary queen of Sheba plus king Solomon of Israel, delivered the true “Ark of the Covenant” from Jerusalem up to Axum; and that way founded one of the longest known as well as intact monarchical dynasties referred to as Solomonic dynasty in the whole world. Remarkable archeological artifacts, ruins as well as monuments are plentiful within Axum and around it proclaiming to the solid, literate, confident, articulate and practical strength of the development.
Known as the pinnacle of all Ethiopian churches, St. Mary of Zion foung in Axum places to be the handler of the authentic Ark of the Covenant which Menilik I brought .Axum’s most well liked attractions include the spectacular steals or the obelisks, the tombs of king Kaleb as well as King Gebre Meskel, plus the renowned palace of queen Sheba together with her bath.