New Church of St Mary of Zion

The huge new church of St Mary of Zion was built in the 1960s so women had a place to worship and it displays Haile Selassie’s usual hideous taste. Still it does cut a dramatic silhouette on the skyline. Beside it, a disproportionately tall bell tower, inspired by the stelae, sprouts heavenwards, while the ruins of the original church sit south of the new church and museum.

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1. St Mary of Zion Church Museum

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The museum inside the St Mary of Zion Church complex contains an impressive haul of treasure, including an unsurpassed collection of former Ethiopian…

2. St Mary of Zion Churches Complex

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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…

3. Ark of the Covenant Chapel

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In between the old and new St Mary of Zion churches is the real reason for most people’s devotion: a tiny, carefully guarded chapel that houses what most…

4. Old Church of St Mary of Zion

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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…

5. Throne Stone

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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.

6. Northern Stelae Field

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Despite the dizzying grandeur of the numerous rock needles reaching for the stars, it’s what’s under your feet here that’s most important. Amazingly,…

7. Archaeological Museum

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This well-laid-out museum inside the Northern Stelae Field contains an interesting variety of objects found in the tombs, ranging from ordinary household…

8. Da'Ero Ela Fig Tree

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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…