Tour to Axum - Ethiopia Tours

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altEthiopia historic tour to Axum  is a tour back to religious history. This kingdom was at its height under king Ezana, baptized as Abreha, in the 4th century AD. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims that the church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Aksum houses the Biblical Ark of the covenant in which lie the tablets of Law upon which the Ten Commandments are inscribed.
This same church was 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 T’imk’et Festival on 7 January. It is known as Epiphany in Western Christianity.

Another major is the festival of Maryam Zion in late November.

 


In 1937, a 24-metre tall, 1700-year-old Obelist of Axum broken into five parts and lying on the ground, was found and shipped by Italian soldiers to Rome to be erected. The Obelist is widely seen as one of the finest examples of engineering from the height of Axumite empire. Despite a 1947 United Nations agreement that the obelisk would be shipped back, Italy balked, resulting in a long –standing diplomatic dispute with the Ethiopian government, which views the obelisk as a symbol of national identity. In April 2005, Italy finally returned the obelisk pieces to Axum amidst much official and public rejoicing. Italy also covered the $4 million costs for the transfer. By July 2008 UNESCO has reinstalled the obelisk in Axum. Halleluiah!!

Axum and Islam:

 

The Axumite Empire has a longstanding relationship with Islam. According to ibn Hisham, when Prophet Muhammad faced oppression from the Quraih clan, he sent a small group included his daughter Ruqayya and her husband uthman Ibn Affan, to whom Ashama Ibn Abjar, the King of Axum, gave refuge and protection and refused the requests of the Quraish clan to send these refugees back to Arabia.
These refugees did not return until the sixth year of the Hijra (AD 628), and even then many remained in Ethiopia, eventually settling at Negash in easten Tigray.

 

Axum main touristic sights:

 

The major Aksumite monuments in the town are stelae; the largest number lie in the Northern Stelae Park, ranging up to the 33-metre (33 metres high 3.84 metres wide 2.35 metres deep, weighing 520 tonnes) Great Stele, believed to have fallen and broken during construction. The tallest standing is the 24-metre (20.6 metres high 2.65 metres wide 1.18 metres deep, weighing 160 tonnes) King Ezana's Stele. Another stele (24.6 metres high 2.32 metres wide 1.36 metres deep, weighing 170 tonnes) removed by the Italian army was returned to Ethiopia in 2005 and reinstalled July 31, 2008. This stele was already broken into pieces before being shipped. Three more stele measure 18.2 metres high 1.56 metres wide 0.76 metres deep, weighing 56 tonnes; 15.8 metres high 2.35 metres wide 1 metres deep, weighing 75 tonnes; 15.3 metres high 1.47 metres wide 0.78 metres deep, weighing 43 tonnes. The stelae are believed to mark graves and would have had cast metal discs affixed to their sides, which are also carved with architectural designs. The Gudit Stelae to the west of town, unlike the northern area, are interspersed with mostly 4th century tombs.


Other features of the town include St Mary of Zion church, built in 1665 and said to contain the Ark of the Covenant (a prominent twentieth-century church of the same name neighbours it), archaeological and ethnographicmuseums, the Ezana Stone written in Sabaean, Ge'ez and Ancient Greek in a similar manner to the Rosetta Stone, King Bazen's Tomb (a megalith considered to be one of the earliest structures), the so-called Queen of Sheba's Bath (actually a reservoir), the fourth-century Ta'akha Maryam and 6th-century Dungur palaces, the monasteries of Abba Pentalewon and Abba Liqanos and the Lioness of Gobedrarock art.


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