A common third stop on the historic circuit is the ancient capital of Axum, which lies close to the Eritrean border at the heart of the former Axumite Empire, the dominant economic and political force in the region for about a millennium prior to its collapse around 700 AD.
Axum is best known today for the giant engraved obelisks (stele) that tower over the north-east of the town. But the entire city stands above a fascinating miscellany of ancient relics- dingy Catacombs, ruined palaces, rock engravings and inscribed tablets- that pay collective testament to the enterprise and complexity of what is perhaps the most enigmatic of all the ancient civilizations of the old world.
This enigma is amplified when one visits the nearby Yeha Temple, estimated to have been constructed 2,500 years ago. The site is regarded to be a religious worship spot for the moon god of South Arabia before the introduction of Christianity in the region.
Axum’s St. marry of Zion church - believed to be repository of the Biblical Ark of the covenant- has for more than 1,600 years lain at the spiritual heart of the Ethiopian Orthodox church. The Axumite architectural legacy lives on in several ancient churches, notably the male- only cliff top gem that is the monastery of Debre-Damo.
One full day is enough to visit all the attractions in Axum but spending more days will allow one to see the surrounding attractions of Yeha Temple, Debre-Damo Monastery and other rock-churches built earlier in the 4ht to 10th century.
Interested in visiting Axum ? Please check available tour packages