The ruins of the ancient city of Axum, near the country’s northern border, are a testament to the city’s former historical and political significance. Lying in the heart of ancient Ethiopia, the ruins are remnants of a time when the Kingdom of Axum was one of the most powerful empires in the world, equal to Rome and Persia.
The site, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980, is a treasure trove for those who truly appreciate archeology. The remaining ruins, which date from between the 1st and 13th century A.D., include enormous stelae, monolithic obelisks, royal tombs, monasteries and the ruins of ancient palaces.
Axum is also famous for being the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, which according to legend was given to Queen Sheba by King Solomon. For followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox faith, Axum is thus regarded as the holiest city in the country and every year thousands of devotees will make a pilgrimage to see this sacred artifact.
For foreign visitors, the main attraction is the giant stelae which were erected by the Aksumite in the pre-Christian times, presumably for religious purposes. One of these granite structures, the Great Stelae, is the biggest monolith in the world, measuring over 33 meters. It fell over sometime in the 4th century and remains in pieces on the ground.