St Mary of Zion Churches Complex

Top choice in Aksum

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 some form has stood here since the earliest days of Ethiopian Christianity and it was God himself who, descending from heaven, indicated that a church should be built here, though the original church is long gone. The complex includes the new church, old church, museum and the chapel said to house the Ark of the Covenant.

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1. Ark of the Covenant Chapel

0.03 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…

2. 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…

3. New Church of St Mary of Zion

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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…

4. 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.

5. 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…

6. 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…

7. Arabtu Ensessa Church

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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…

8. 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…