Historical Attractions


Yaha, which lies to the northeast of Axum, is the site of the famous Temple of the Moon, Ethiopia’s oldest standing structure. It is generally agreed the Temple of the Moon was built during the time of the D’mt Kingdom in the 8th and 7th centuries BC. The D’mt Kingdom preceded the Axumite Kingdom. When and how the transition from the D’mt Kingdom to the Axumite Kingdom occurred has not yet been determined. The oldest standing structure in Ethiopia is located in Yeha: the Great Temple. This is a tower built in the Sabaean style, and dated through comparison with dated structures in South Arabia to around 700 BC; although no radiocarbon dating testing has been performed on samples from Yeha, this date for the Great Tower is supported by local inscriptions. Yeha is also the location of an Ethiopian Orthodox monastery, founded according to tradition by Abba Aftse, one of the Nine Saints. Yeha has also been the site of a number of archaeological excavations, beginning in 1952 by the Ethiopian Institute of Archaeology.

Debre Damo Church:

Debre Damo monastery is situated on an isolated mountain in northern part of Tigray. Some three hours drive from Axum with the recently restored road and an additional one hour hard ascending walk from the point where the road ends. (Depending on your fitness) lies, the spectacular monastery of Debre Damo, it is unique compared with most Ethiopian monasteries. Debre Damo was built in the 6th century AD with curved wood plates, painting ceilings and walls dedicated to the ledged of Saint Abune Areggawi, the history of Debre Damo is core on the Nine Saints who came to Ethiopia from Syria and other Europe empires in the 6th century during the reign of Kaleb and Gebremeskel to widen Christianity in the country particularly the northern part of Ethiopia.


Axum is the ancient kingdom that flourished in northeastern Africa from the 1st century BC until the early 7th century AD. Axum is 360km north of Gonder and is the ancient city which was once the capital of Ethiopia. It is known for its historical and pre-historic relics. Legend has, that it was once the seat of the Queen of Sheba or Makeda (we call her) who reigned over the region in the 10th century B.C. The Axum obelisks were carved out from a single granite stone and are the world’s tallest monolithic art work. It is believed that they were erected some 2000 years ago. They are unique in their architectural beauty and mysterious past. Axum is also known as an archaeological site where one can find historic and pre-historic relics unearthed through continuous excavations. Mary of Zion climes to be the custodian of the original Ark of the Covenant brought by Menilik I .Axum’s most popular attractions includes as you gaze on the magnificent steals or obelisks, the tomb of king Kaleb and King Gebre Meskel, and the legendary palace and bath of queen Sheba.

Tigrai Rock Hewn Churches:

Over 125 rocks hewn churches are recorded in Tigray region. The rock churches of Tigrai do not function primarily as tourist attraction they were generally excavated using a very different method from that at Lalibela, the antiquity of most of the Tigraian rock-hewn churches remains largely a matter of speculate. Every church has its own oral tradition regarding its excavation, in many cases the church is dated to the reign of Abreha-we-Astebeha the twin Emperors of Axum who converted to Christianity in the middle of the 4th century. Some of these rock hewn churches are pre-Christian temples, which was changed to church after the spread of Christianity in the northern Ethiopia. Most of these churches are difficult to access since they are carved on the top of the cliff, thus visitors who are interested to visit have to be physically fit, the rock churches can be visited form the Mekele or on the way to Axum, from this wokro Churckos and Abreha-we-Astebeha are the most reachable. Most of these churches are found on the Gera-Alta chained Mountains Also these magnificent churches can be visited on the eastern and southern Tigray area.


The extraordinary, isolated town of Lalibela, set high in the mountain of Lasta situated on the south direction of Axum, is famed for its rock- hewn churches, and is arguably the one place in Ethiopia that no tourist should miss. Known as Roha until recent time ,Lalibela was the capital of the Zagwe dynasty ,which ruled over Ethiopia from the 10th century to the mid of 13th century ,and its modern name obtain from that of the most famous of the Zagwe rulers ,the 12th century king Lalibela. The Lalibela churches are big several are in excess of 10 meter high and because they are carved below ground level, they are ringed by trenches and courtyards, there sides of which are cut in to with stone graves and hermit cells ,and connected to each other by a tangled maze of tunnels and passages.


No journey along Ethiopia’s great historic route would be complete without a visit to the medieval walled city of Harar, which stands among green mountains (at an elevation of 1885 meters) on the east wall of the Great Rift Valley 500 km from Addis Ababa and near to the Somali border, with its more than 90 mosques and shrines, is considered the fourth most sacred center of the Islamic world, registered by UNESCO as world heritage in 2008. Harar was founded between the 7th and the 11th century. In the sixteen century Harar, under sultan Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad, became the capital of an independent Muslim kingdom. Harar has for centuries been the main centre for Islamic learning and culture in Ethiopia, and a prosperous center for caravan trade linked by trade routes with the rest of Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the outside world. The Hyena man is considered to be a tourist attraction of Harar. This long-standing tradition of feeding the carnivores at night began in 1960. Harar has an ethnically complex population made up of Adares, the indigenous highland Ethiopian People of this region who speak a Semitic language related to Amharic, Arabs, Oromo’s and Somalis from the plains.


Gonder, the cross roads of Ethiopian civilization, is located 50km north of lake Tana, 740 km north of Addis Ababa and situated in the foothills of the simian mountain at an altitude of 2,200meters above sea level. Gonder served as the capital of Ethiopia for more than 200 hundreds years from the rise of Fasiladas (1636-67) to the fall of Tewodros (1855-68) instruction in painting, music dance, poetry and many other disciplines thrived. Because of the focus on arts and architecture it has been labeled the Camelot of Africa. Gonder is famous for its massive ruins of imposing castles which depict the old days of our emperors and the skill and the craftsmanship used in the building of these several castles. The castle has been renovated recently by the fund of UNESCO; the castle compound is registered as world heritage.