Axum was the center of the marine trading power known as the Aksumite Kingdom, which predated the earliest mentions in Roman era writings. Around 356 CE, its ruler was converted to Christianity by Frumentius. Later, under the reign of Kaleb, Axum was a quasi-ally of Byzantium against the Sasanian Persian Empire which had adopted Zoroastrianism. The historical record is unclear, with ancient church records the primary contemporary sources. It is believed it began a long slow decline after the 7th century due partly to the Persians and finally the Arabs contesting old Red sea trade routes. Eventually Aksum was cut off from its principal markets in Alexandria, Byzantium and Southern Europe and its trade share was captured by Arab traders of the era.
The Kingdom of Aksum was finally destroyed by Gudit and eventually some of the people of Aksum were forced south and their civilization declined. As the kingdom’s power declined so did the influence of the city, which is believed to have lost population in the decline, similar to Rome and other cities thrust away from the flow of world events. The last known (nominal) king to reign was crowned in about the 10th century, but the kingdom’s influence and power ended long before that. Its decline in population and trade then contributed to the shift of the power center of the Ethiopian Empire south to the Agaw region as it moved further inland. The city of Axum was the administrative seat of an empire spanning 1 million square miles. Eventually, the alternative name (Ethiopia) was adopted by the central region, and subsequently, the present modern state.
Lalibela (Amharic: ላሊበላ?) is a town in Amhara Region, northern Ethiopia famous for monolithic rock-cut churches. The whole of Lalibela offers an exceptional testimony to the medieval and post-medieval civilization of Ethiopia. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and a center of pilgrimage. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. Ethiopia is one of the earliest nations to adopt Christianity in the first half of the fourth century, and its historical roots date to the time of the Apostles.
The layout and names of the major buildings in Lalibela are widely accepted, especially by local clergy, to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem. This has led some experts to date the current church forms to the years following the capture of Jerusalem in 1187 by Muslim leader, Saladin.[ Lalibela is located in the Semien Wollo Zone of the Amhara Region, at roughly 2,500 meters above sea level. It is the main town in Lasta woreda, which was formerly part of Bugna woreda. The Rock-Hewn Churches were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
Rock-hewn churches of Tigray
The landscapes of northern Tigray seem to spring from some hard-bitten African fairy tale. The luminous light bathes scattered sharp peaks that rise into the sky out of a sandy, rolling semidesert. The stratified plateaus, particularly between Dugem and Megab in the Gheralta region, lead to inevitable comparisons with the USA’s desert southwest. The 120-odd churches are as intriguing as the landscape is beautiful. Very different from the more famous monolithic (carved out of the ground and only left attached to the earth at the base) churches of Lalibela, the Tigrayan churches are carved from cliff faces, built into pre-existing caves or constructed high atop some improbable perch – getting to some of them may not be for the faint-hearted, but getting there is almost always half the fun. And beyond a few famous churches, you’ll likely get to explore on your own, even in the high season.
Gonder Fasil Ghebbi
Fasil Ghebbi (Royal Enclosure) is the remains of a fortress-city within Gondar, Ethiopia. It was founded in the 17th and 18th centuries by Emperor Fasilides (Fasil) and was the home of Ethiopia’s emperors. Its unique architecture shows diverse influences including Nubian styles. The site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Ghebbi is an Amharic word for a compound or enclosure.The complex of buildings includes Fasilides’ castle, Iyasu I’s palace, Dawit III’s Hall, a banqueting hall, stables, Empress Mentewab’s castle, a chancellery, library and three churches: Asasame Qeddus Mikael, Elfign Giyorgis and Gemjabet Mariyam.
Debre Damo is the name of a flat-topped mountain, or amba, and a 6th-century monastery in northern Ethiopia. The mountain is a steeply rising plateau of trapezoidal shape, about 1000 by 400 m in dimension. With a latitude and longitude of 14°22′26″N 39°17′25″ECoordinates: 14°22′26″N 39°17′25″E, it sits at an elevation of 2216 m above sea level. It is west of Adigrat, in theMehakelegnaw Zone of the Tigray Region. The monastery, accessible only by rope up a sheer cliff, 15 m high, is known for its collection of manuscripts and for having the earliest existing church building in Ethiopia that is still in its original style, and only men can visit it. Tradition claims the monastery was founded in the 6th century by Abuna Aregawi.