Gobodura Hill


A site known as Wuchate Golo is one of Aksum's four ancient quarries, the birthplace of the famous stelae. Several stelae (all unmarked) were almost completely freed from the rock, but then abandoned. Just as interesting is the Lioness of Gobodura (የጎቦዱራዋ እንስት አንበሳ). It was here that the Archangel Mikael fought a tremendous battle with a fierce lioness. The fight ended when the saint hurled the beast into a massive boulder with such force that its outline is still visible.

Mystery still surrounds the exact tools that were used by the master craftsmen of Aksum, but in the quarry you can see clearly the process by which they cut the hard stone from the rock. After the intended break was mapped out, a row of rectangular sockets was cut. Then, perhaps, dry wooden wedges were inserted into the sockets and made to expand by the use of water.

The parking area is signed 3km west of Aksum, off the Shire road. It’s quite a rough walk from the road over boulders and through scrub, and you’ll need a guide to help you find anything. It’s typically a one-hour circular trip, but it’s a beautiful spot for walking and some choose to wander here for hours.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Aksum attractions

1. Dungur (Queen of Sheba’s) Palace

1.78 MILES

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…

2. Ta’akha Maryam

2.41 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. Old Quarter

2.42 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…

4. Arabtu Ensessa Church

2.53 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

2.53 MILES

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

6. Da'Ero Ela Fig Tree

2.53 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…

7. Throne Stone

2.64 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.

8. Old Church of St Mary of Zion

2.66 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…