Like the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the ancient city of Axum is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once the hub of a great civilization that spread from East Africa, across the Red Sea, and into the Arabian Peninsula, Axum is home to some of the most significant archeological findings on the entire continent. Researchers working in the area believe they've only hit the tip of the iceberg.
The most obvious of Axum's ancient wonders are the huge stelae. Over 1,700 years ago, these massive pieces of solid stone were hauled four kilometers from a quarry, carved into obelisks, and then raised upright. The tallest stele is 23 meters (75 feet) high, while one which lays shattered is 33 meters in length and weighs a staggering 500 tons. How the Axumites were able to achieve such technological marvels remains a mystery.
Axum is the birthplace of Ge'ez which evolved into the main languages of modern Ethiopia. And more significantly, for Ethiopians, it is where Christianity was introduced to its people in the fourth century, becoming only the second country to embrace it as a national religion (after Armenia.) Axum is certainly one of the most important historical sites in Africa.
Select an image below to view photos of Axum: