Axum Tours, Vacations, Travel Packages & Experiences
The original capital of the Kingdom of Axum, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Africa on an Ethiopian vacation. It was a naval and trading power that ruled the region from about 400 BC into the 10th Century. The kingdom was also arbitrarily identified as Abyssinia. In 1980 UNESCO added Axum's archaeological sites to its list of World Heritage Sites due to their historic value. Axum is the name of a powerful, urban Iron Age Kingdom of Ethiopia that flourished in the centuries before and after the time of Christ.
The modern city of Axum is located in the northeastern portion of what is now Ethiopia, on the horn of Africa. It lies high on a plateau 2215 metres/7200 feet above sea level and in its heyday, its region of influence included both sides of the Red Sea. Early history shows that trade on the Red Sea coast was active as early as 1st Century BC. During the 1st Century AD, Axum began a rapid rise to prominence, trading its agricultural resources and its gold and ivory through the port of Adulis into the Red Sea trade network and thence to the Roman Empire. Trade through Adulis connected eastward to India as well, providing Axum and its rulers a profitable connection between Rome and the East.
The major Aksumite monuments in the town are stelae. These obelisks are around 1700 years old and have become a symbol of the Ethiopian people's identity. The largest number is in the Northern Stelae Park. The Obelisk of Axum was removed by the Italian army in 1937 and returned to Ethiopia in 2005. This stele was already broken into pieces before being shipped.
The other major features of the town when traveling to Ethiopia are the Old and New Cathedrals of St Mary of Zion. The Old St Mary of Zion Cathedral was built in 1665 by Emperor Fasilides and said to have previously housed the Ark of the Covenant. The New Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion stands next to the old one and was built to fulfill a pledge by Emperor Haile Selassie to the Our Lady of Zion for the liberation of Ethiopia from the Fascist occupation. Local legend claims the Queen of Sheba lived in the town.
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