Dungur (Queen of Sheba’s) Palace


The structure at Dungur is popularly known as Queen of Sheba’s Palace, though archaeologists are divided over whether it was the great woman's palace or the 6th-century-AD mansion of a nobleman. Most leaned towards the latter, but the find during recent excavations of a relief carving depicting a beautiful woman (in the museum at St Mary of Zion Church) has caused some to wonder whether her palace may lie beneath the current ruins.

Climb the observation tower at the back of the site for a view out over the 50-room layout. It has small undressed stones and walls recessed at intervals and unusually tapering with height. The well-preserved flagstone floor is thought to have belonged to a throne room. The palace also contains hidden treasure rooms, a private bathing area and a kitchen, where a large brick oven can still be seen. The stairwells suggest the existence of at least one upper storey.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Aksum attractions

1. Old Quarter

0.65 MILES

It’s worth taking a wander around the old quarter surrounding the Northern Stelae Field and stretching west to Ta’akha Maryam. It’s in these dusty streets…

2. Ta’akha Maryam

0.69 MILES

This is one site where the past very much outweighs the present, at least for now. Early excavations revealed that Ta’akha Maryam was a magnificent palace…

3. Da'Ero Ela Fig Tree

0.75 MILES

On the first seven days of each month (according to the Ethiopian calendar), St Mary of Zion’s replica Ark (the original replica) is paraded through the…

4. Arabtu Ensessa Church

0.75 MILES

The ‘Four Beasts’ Church, named after the writers of the Biblical Gospels, was rebuilt in the 1950s and is worth a look for the wonderful murals (most…

5. Main Market

0.84 MILES

The main market, with spices and the like, runs all week, but is busiest on Saturday.

6. Throne Stone

0.86 MILES

At the top of the stairs in front of the old St Mary of Zion Church is the Throne Stone where the coronation of 261 Aksumite kings took place.

7. Old Church of St Mary of Zion

0.88 MILES

The rectangular, men-only old church at the southern end of the complex of churches here is a remarkable example of traditional architecture built by the…

8. St Mary of Zion Churches Complex

0.89 MILES

Though religions have come and gone, Aksum has always remained a holy city – welcome to the centre of the universe for Christian Ethiopians. A church of…