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Axum was the capital city of the kingdom of Axum, a mighty naval and trading power . Axum was a naval and trading power that ruled the region from ca. 400 BC into the 10th century.

The major Aksumite monuments in the town are stelae; the largest number lie in the Northern Stelae Park, ranging up to the 33-metre. The tallest standing is the 24-metre  Another stelae removed by the Italian army was returned to Ethiopia in 2005 and reinstalled July 31 2008 .

The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Aksum houses the Biblical Ark of the Covenant in which lies the Tablets of Law upon which the Ten Commandments are inscribed. This same church was the site Ethiopian emperors were crowned for centuries until the reign of Fasilides, then again beginning with Yohannes IV until the end of the empire. Axum is considered to be the holiest city in Ethiopia and is an important destination of pilgrimages. Significant religious festivals are the Timket Festival (known as the Epiphany in western Christianity) on 7 January and the Festival of Maryam Zion in late November.

Other features of the town include St Mary of Zion church, built in 1665 and said to contain the Ark of the Covenantarchaeological and ethnographic museums, the Ezana Stone written in SabaeanGe'ez and Ancient Greek in a similar manner to the Rosetta StoneKing Bazen's Tomb & other monasteries of fourth to six centuries. Due to theirhistorical value, in 1980 UNESCO added Aksum's archaeological sites to its list of World Heritage Sites.