Saturday, July 16, 2011


City of Aksum Ethiopia's oldest city
Ethiopia is truly a tourist paradise — beautiful, secretive, mysterious and extraordinary. Above all things, it is a country of great antiquity, with a culture and traditions dating back more than 3,000 years. The traveller in Ethiopia makes a journey through time, transported by beautiful monuments and the ruins of edifices built long centuries ago.

Northern Ethiopia’s ancient city of Axum is the country’s oldest extant urban settlement. Once the capital and a major religious centre, it remains the site of many remarkable antiquities, including the famous monolithic obelisks, or stelae, important Stone inscriptions, the remains of spectacular palaces and graves, and a special gold-silver-and-bronze currency.
The city, with its historic church of St Mary of Tseyon (Zion), is a must for the tourist and any serious student of Ethiopia’s history and culture. Axum grew to importance in classical antiquity — the millennium which included the birth of Christ. The Axumite kingdom emerged as the most powerful Red Sea state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia, a great commercial power trading with Egypt, probably Palestine, Arabia, India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
Stone slab from the ancient city of aksum
A stone slab with inscriptions in Geez, Greek and Sabean describing Axum's victory over Yemen
photo:Andrei Skurtu

The Axumites also had significant trading land contacts with religions to the west and south, some of which were gradually brought into Axum’s economic and later political orbit. After its conversion to Christianity, early in the fourth century, Axum also emerged as an important religious centre, site of the country’s most important and revered Church of St. Mary of Tsion, which, according to Ethiopian tradition, is the repository of the biblical Ark of the Covenant. Axum’s importance survived its political decline, between the seventh and tenth centuries. A number of years later Ethiopian Emperors — all who could do so — went to the city for their coronation. Axum so impressed nineteenth-century British traveller Theodore Bent that he described it at length in his classic travelogue The Sacred City of the Ethiopians.
More about the Aksum obelisks
Source : Selamta

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