Sprawling, dusty, and rural – Aksum is modest almost to a fault. Initially, it’s hard to imagine that it was ever the site of a great civilisation. Yet Aksum is one of Ethiopia’s stars. Littered with massive teetering stelae, ruined palaces, underground tombs (most undiscovered) and inscriptions rivalling the Rosetta Stone itself, the town once formed part of the Aksumite kingdom described as ‘the last of the great civilisations of Antiquity to be revealed to modern knowledge’. It’s undoubtedly one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most important and spectacular ancient sites, and Unesco lists Aksum as a World Heritage site.
Aksum has a vibrancy, life and continuing national importance very rarely found at ancient sites. Pilgrims still journey to Aksum, and most Ethiopians believe passionately that the Ark of the Covenant resides here.
To do Aksum justice, schedule a bare minimum of two days, or one full day with a vehicle.
Last updated: Mar 2, 2009