Old Quarter


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 that it really hits you how Aksum is more than just a collection of dead ruins; rather it’s a living, breathing community where the past persists. Camels and donkeys carting heavy loads trudge past homes that feel as ancient as the ruins, and pilgrims in white come in from the countryside.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Aksum attractions

1. Arabtu Ensessa Church

0.11 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…

2. Da'Ero Ela Fig Tree

0.16 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…

3. Ta’akha Maryam

0.18 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…

4. Throne Stone

0.22 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.

5. Old Church of St Mary of Zion

0.24 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…

6. St Mary of Zion Churches Complex

0.25 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…

7. Ark of the Covenant Chapel

0.26 MILES

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…

8. St Mary of Zion Church Museum

0.28 MILES

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