Axum lies in the northern province of Tigre, the cradle of Ethiopian culture. Axum is the oldest city in Ethiopia (it was the ancient capital) and is the holiest city of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It is smaller than you might expect and rather inauspicious on first impression, but it does boast some stunning antiquities.axum_ethiopia

The roots of modern Ethiopia lie in the Axumite Empire, though nobody knows for certain when Axum and its empire were founded. However there are few that would query that Axum was one of the most important and technologically advanced civilisations of its time, or that it was a major force in world trade between the 1st and 7th centuries AD. Some idea of Axum’s contemporary importance is given by the 3rd century Persian writer, Manni, who listed it as one of the four great kingdoms in the world, along with Persia, China and Rome.

Ethiopians believe that the Ark of the Covenant is held at Axum, and though this may be questioned the town has retained its position as the centre of Ethiopian Christianity.

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