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Historical Attraction Sites

That Ethiopia has a heritage from the beginnings of mankind was underlined when the remains of ‘Lucy’, dated from 3.5 million years ago, and the 4.4 million year old Homo ramidus afarensis, man’s oldest anthropoid ancestor, were uncovered. Traders from Greece, Rome, Persia and Egypt knew of the riches of what is now Ethiopia, and by the first century AD, Axum was the capital of a great empire.

This realm became one of the first Christian lands of Africa. Late in the 10th century Axum declined and a new Zagwe dynasty, centered in what is now Lalibela, ruled the land. Axum, Lalibella and Gondar now provide our greatest historical legacy. It was in the 16th century that the son of the great explorer Vasco da Gama came to Ethiopia, but then found a land of many kingdoms and provinces beset feuds and wars. In the l9th century the great Emperor Menelik led us towards the modern state of Ethiopia, and the Country’s passage to modernization began.

Axum

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.

 

Lalibela

This rural town is known around the world for its monolithic churches, which were built during the reign of Saint Lalibela (a member of the Zagwe Dynasty ruled Ethiopia from the end of the kingdom of Axum to 1270) who ruled the Ethiopia in the 13th century. There are 11 churches, assembled in three groups.

The eight wonder of the world: The Northern Group: Bete Medhane Alem, home to the Lalibela Cross and believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world, probably a copy of St Mary of Zion in Aksum. It is linked to Bete Maryam (possibly the oldest of the churches), Bete Golgotha (known for its arts and said to contain the tomb of King Lalibela).

During Lalibela's reign, the current town of Lalibela was known as Roha. "Lalibela" itself means "the bees recognize his sovereignty. Lalibela has always been a place of pilgrimage largely known in Ethiopia.  The term primarily refers to the complex of eleven churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia believed to have been created in the 12th century, the most famous of which is the cross-shaped Church of St. George.

 

 

Royal Enclosure in Gondar

Gondar, former capital of Ethiopia. The city is situated in northwestern Ethiopia, 32 km north of Lake T’ana, at an elevation of 2215 m. During unsettled periods between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, Ethiopian rulers moved their royal camps frequently. King Fasil (Fasiledes) settled in Gondar and established it as a permanent capital in 1636. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the fortress-city of Fasil Ghebbi was the residence of the Ethiopian emperor Fasilides and his successors. After Fasil, successive kings continued building, improving the techniques and architectural style.

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Monasteries on Lake Tana

A lot of very interesting Ethiopian Christian monasteries can be found in Lake Tana, the third greatest lake in Africa. There are some 20 churches and monasteries on the 37 islands. They can be reached by a convenient and fairly comfortable boat ride, which leaves regularly. Most of them date from the 16th and 17th centuries and have changed little since their founding. They are simple huts decorated with colorful scenes from the Bible and lives of the saints. The Zegge Peninsula is home to the very beautiful Ura Kidane Mehret and Bet Maryam monasteries. The former is one of the most-visited of the monasteries. Bet Maryam has an interesting museum/treasury.

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Debre Damo

Some 76 Kilometers from Axum is the monastery of Debre Damo ( closed to Women), which is said to have the oldest existing intact church in Ethiopia. Local tradition says that Abune Aregawi, one of the nine Saints, built the church in the 16th Century. The Monastery of Debre Damo can only be reached by rope pulley.
 

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