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Axum (Aksum) ~ Ethiopia Pictures

St. Mary of Zion Ark of Covenant, Ezana Park, Remhai Hotel

Axum / Aksum City in Northern Ethiopia is located 1,100 km (684 miles) north of Addis Ababa, and close to the Ethiopia Eritrea border. Axum is also spelled Aksum. Spelling variations are common in Ethiopia, so if you are looking for information, try various forms.

Axum, the former Axumite Empire, draws visitors with its rich history: Here are some pictures from St Mary of Zion New Church, reputed site of the Ark of the Covenant. See the Aksum stele fields with Queen of Sheba relics on its own page. If you are arriving from west of Aksum, you'll notice a number of old tanks, big guns and trucks are in situ as rusty roadside memorials of the Italian occupation (1936-1941).

Ethiopian Family on the Road to Axum Family near Aksum ethiopia walk along the highway with laden donkey.

This family group was typical of many we met in this region. We first saw camels in this area, which is noticeably more desertlike.

Reddish powdery dust is everywhere -- there is no way to avoid it, and with water at a premium, there's little available for washing.

The flourishing market gardens west of Aksum are irrigated by water-filled trenches, showing this can, indeed, be a fertile land.

Views from Axum Fields to Ethiopia Eritrea border

tour guide points to ethiopia border with Eritrea just North of Aksum.

Just north of Aksum, we stopped to visit one of the ancient rock churches, and were admiring the sweeping views from this hillside.

After the Simien Mountains, Aksum seemed like North American prairie lands.

There was virtually nothing to offer shade, and the land was dusty and arid, with smoky haze filling the valley.

Our guide pointed west (left in this photo), and said, "There's Sudan." Pointing north (straight ahead) across the valley, he said, "Go about 6 kilometres (4 miles) and you're in Eritrea."

Hillside Monastery as seen from Remhai Hotel

Aksum ethiopia  Hillside Monastery

From my hotel room, I could hear the Coptic Christmas Eve celebrations throughout the night.

Our guide (a newly-ordained deacon) said he would go home and a sleep for a few hours before going to church.

"We start singing at 8 o'clock tonight," he said, "and go until 4:30 tomorrow morning."

This photo was taken with the long lens, so the monastery was at some distance, and the faint music welcome, not intrusive.

Camel convoy Aksum Near St Mary of Zion Church

Camel convoy on the road in Aksum ethiopia.

This caravan took over much of the roadway outside the grounds to St. Mary of Zion New Church.

I hadn't seen camels in Ethiopia, until now.

To be in this ancient city, on Christmas Eve, with bedecked camels wandering by, I half expected to see Three Wise Men, as well.

Ezana Park in Aksum Ethiopia

Ezana Park sign at park entrance in aksum ethiopia.

In the heart of Aksum is a stone marker written in three ancient scripts that dates back to King Ezana in the 4th century.

It was moved here from its original site in the 1930s.

We spent time in the Archaeological Museum not far from here, where there is a good collection of Aksumite coins and artefacts.

Rock Tomb Aksum Near Queen of Sheba Baths sunlight pours down the stone stairs in a Rock Tomb north of Aksum ethiopia.

Try as I have, I cannot name this site with any degree of certainty.

The best I can offer is that it's located on the road that passes behind the Queen of Sheba Baths.

Little light reaches inside, so bring your flashlight to get a better look into the dark chambers.

Our guide, an articulate young man who had only recently became a deacon in his church, sang the Lord's Prayer in three languages -- Amharic and two archaic ones

Very nice touch in a special place

New St. Mary of Zion Church Aksum EthiopiaPriest at the New St. Mary of Zion Church aksum ethiopia

A guarded chapel at the church compound is reputed to contain the Ark of the Covenant, but no visitors are allowed.

This new church, shown here, was built in the 1960s, under the direction of Haile Selassie

Remhai Hotel Room - Aksum Ethiopia

upscale Remhai Hotel room in  Aksum ethiopia.

After the hostel in Debark, my happy discovery that our stay in Aksum would be at the new Remhai Hotel was met by others with a little dismay at the much higher prices.

I paid 255 Ethiopian birr (about $30 U.S.) per night, which included a good breakfast. (The hostel in Debark cost $5 U.S. a night. You get what you pay for, is all I'm saying.)

The rooms were very clean and well kept, as were the bathrooms. The staff were most friendly and helpful.

The swimming pool was open, though unheated, and much too cool for swimming.

A business center in a building by the pool offered internet services.

We walked to the main street 2 blocks south of the Remhai to have dinner at the Africa Hotel.

I was able to change money at a bank several blocks to the west.

Handicrafts Shop one of many in Aksum

traditional Ethiopia rugs outside a Aksum Handicrafts Shop with pink walls and turquoise paint trim.

These rugs hanging outside an Aksum shop are woven in the distinctive and commonly seen pattern.

Should you decide you want one, but don't want to carry it around, look for one in the shops at the Addis Ababa airport.

Local paintings (remove any frame and roll them up for transporting home) were offered for sale here, too.

There are many such shops on Aksum's main street.

Basket seller Outside St. Mary of Zion Church Axum Ethiopiawoman selling traditional ethiopian woven baskets on a blanket spread under trees outside St. Mary of Zion in aksum.

Ethiopian basketry is a fine art, and makes a fine souvenir. Baskets are woven from fabric, or from grasses, in brightly coloured patterns.

This woman was selling her woven baskets just outside the grounds of St. Mary of Zion Church. The yellow basket in the center is woven from yarn, not grasses.



Related Ethiopia pictures:

Bahir Dar;

Blue Nile Falls;


Simien Mountains Park / Debark;

Ethiopian foods, coffee ceremony.