Much more is know about the historic highland city of Axum, once a great commerciaTour and Travel in Axum Ethiopial centre, trading via the Red Sea port of Adulis and founded perhaps 500 years after the decline of Yeha. With daily Ethiopian Airlines flights from Addis Ababa, Axum stands in the highlands northwestern Tigray, commanding spectacular views over the nearby Adawa hills. This ancient settlement is frequently referred to as “the sacred city of the Ethiopian”-a description that adequately sums up its significance in national culture as a centre of Orthodox Christianity. Many remarkable monuments here attest to the great antiquity of religious expression in this country, and as a former capital that has never lost its special appeal to the hearts and minds of all Ethiopians.
Axum is renowned for its cathedral of St. Mary of Zion where, legend has it the original Ark of the covenant is housed. Axum is also famous for its seven mysterious monolithic stelae, hewn from single pieces of solid granite. The most notable are carved to resemble multi-storey houses; several weigh more than 500 tonnes and stand 20 metres high. They seem less like prayers of stone and more like lightning-rods to heaven. Axum’s greatest significance, however, is as the epicenter of the queen of Sheba’s dynasty, upon which rests the notion of the sacred kinship of the semitic peoples of Ethiopian – a notion that links the recent past to ancient times. The former Emperor Haile Selassie claimed to the 225th monarch of the solomonic line. His death in 1975 marked the end of an era – and the beginning of the end of an entire way of life.