Large look alike (the famous Tiya stelae) can be seen when you visit the Tiya town where they are found with their weird markings that no one knows where they came from but they have become a top tourist attraction in Ethiopia. There are several stelae that are located in the area and these amount to about 100 stelae. The Tiya stelae was made a UNESCO heritage site due to the uniqueness of the stones that no one has an idea of how they came about. They are believed to have been constructed around the 15th century and many locals say that the Tiya stelae had a spiritual and cultural connection to the people who used to live around them.
The Tiya stelae being one of the UNESCO heritage sites in Ethiopia makes it to the top of the bucket list for many tourists who visit the country. Little information is actually known about these pillars but they have strange marks around them which no one can explain and this makes them more interesting to look at. It is not very far away from the road which makes their access easy and that is why tourists find it easy to actually enjoy what it has to offer. When you ask around about the history of the Tiya stelae, the tour guides will let you know about how it was used as a burial grounds for people and upon digging deeper by archeologists, there were a few remains that were found within some of the collapsed stelae and the engravings on the stones which include humans holding hands and crosses make the theory almost believable.
Before you visit the Tiya stelae in Ethiopia you need to understand what a stelae is all about and what it actually means. A stelae is an erected slab that is both wide and tall and they are used for commemoration or as grave sites. Some people believe that they were constructed in the 17th century and they are easily spotted since they are near the road. Some people believe that the stelae are graves of all the Aksumites that died during battle and in this area, there are about seven stelae which are just a few feet away from each other although you will find some of them broken on the ground although there are others that are being repaired.
The Tiya stelae consists of nine big beautiful stelae and they are made up of three different stelae that is the non-phillac, the anthropomorphic and phillac stelae. When we talk about the anthropomorphic stelae, these were constructed in human form, the non-phillac stelae have no shape at all while the phillac stelae were constructed as thin and long stones. Note that irrelevant of the fact that all these stelae are made in different forms, they can all be seen in the same area. The tallest stelae among the Tiya rises up to a height of five meters high and they have various symbols that are engraved on them and that is why the locals believe they are religiously connected to Christianity.
Besides the Tiya stelae, there are other several stelae that are found in the country in Axum city and some of them have been listed below. Located in Axum city which is considered to be one of the most holy places in Ethiopia, these stelae just like the Tiya stelae are a good site and they offer more historical facts about Ethiopia as a country and they are a great sight to see for all those that visit the great city of Axum.
The Northern Stelae field
The Northern stelae which is located in the Northern part of Axum city is the most important of all the stelae fields and it consists of about 66 stelae that are believed to have been built around the 4th century. It had more than 66 in the beginning but some kept on collapsing and the few remaining are what you get to see when you visit the Northern stelae field. The Northern stelae has stelae that have different heights to them that is some are about one meter high whereas others go up to a height of 35 meters. They have symbols that can be seen if you look closely and it consists of three large stelae that include the Rome stelae, the King Ezana stelae and the Great stelae which is the largest of all the three stelae found in the Northern stelae.
- The Great stelae
The Great stelae is believed to be larger than most Egyptian pyramids and it is also known as King Ramhai’s stele by the locals. The Great stelae suffered a fall about 1600 years ago but even after its fall, it still is the largest stelae in the Northern Stelae. It rises up to 33 meters high and it is adorned with symbols that are said to have been drawn by the Axumites. The great stelae fell and during its fall, it shattered the tomb of Nefas Mewcha and from the damage that it caused, many Axumites and other locals that were living in the area ended up leaving their paganism ways and embraced Christianity. Some believe it was a sign from God and that is why they changed but all in all, it is a great sight to see when you visit the Northern Stelae area.
- The Roman stelae
The Roman stelae is the second largest in the Northern stelae and it rises up to a height of 24.6 meters. There are several windows and doors that can be found on each of the four sides of the stelae and when you get a real close look at it, you will find that it has cracks on it which were caused by invaders who crashed into it causing it to crack into three parts.
It collapsed during the 16th century and was brought back to the country in 2007 after it had been shipped to Italy for repair. When it collapsed, Mussolini ordered for the pieces to be taken to Italy and it was after a series of negotiation that it was brought back to Ethiopia to the place where it stands at the moment.
- The king Ezana Stelae
The king Ezana stelae rises to a height of 23 meters and it is the only stelae that has never collapsed unlike others found in the area. The way it was constructed is a bit different form the other stelae that is it has tunnels at the base which are believed to have been where the blood from the sacrifices collected before flowing away. The king Ezana stelae is older than the rest of the stelae and that is why you will find that the marks on the stelae are different from the rest and unlike the others that have markings on all four sides of the stelae, the Ezana stelae has markings on only three sides. A visit to the Ezana stelae will have you explore the base of the stelae which acted as an Alter in the Axumite years.
The Unique stelae
The unique stelae just like the name suggests is extremely unique as compared to the rest and this is because of the rectangular shape that is found at the top of the stelae and this is the same place where many locals believe that the Ark of the Covenant is kept. The unique stelae also fell many years ago and there have been rumors about raising it again although nothing has been at the moment but it is still a perfect place for one to go and experience the Axumite culture and rich history.
After visiting the Stelae that are found in Axum city, you will also get a chance of visiting other tourist attractions that are found in the Axum city like museums depicting how the Axumites lived, the church of the covenant where the covenant is believed to be kept to this day and explore what the locals who are living in the area have to offer.
A visit to the Tiya stelae is the perfect place to actually get to learn more about Ethiopia and since no one knows exactly how and when they were formed, you can definitely use your imagination which will add more excitement to your visit to the stelae since each person will have different stories about their formation from which you can compare.
Many of the stelae that are found in Ethiopia are either cracked or on the ground and the government of Ethiopia has promised to work on them so that they go back to their previous glory. Nothing has been done at the moment but this does not mean that you cannot enjoy the stelae the way they are as you await their revival although you will need to go with a tour guide who will help you with translation with the locals and for guidance so that you don’t get lost.