Tigray home for the majestic Axum and Yeha civilizations is Ethiopia’s Northern most state . It’s also the heart of the country glorious past. Once home to a great civilization spanning more than 1000 years from the 8th century BC to 8th century AD. As evidence speak unique pre-Christian obelisks, calculus stone, inscriptions, dozens of rock hewan churches, monasteries, underground palaces and emperial tunes that have all withstood the test of time, Tigray was one of the countries architectural worship. Tigray historical, religious and cultural wealth is overwhelming rich as it’s diverse. In addition to the Tigrigna speaking Ethiopians, Tigray is also home to minority Ethiopian nationalities, namely The Erob and Kunama who live in the North East and North West parts of the region respectively.

Tigray shares borders with the Afar region to the East, Eritrea to the North, Sudan to the West and the Amhara region to the South. From end to end Tigray is stippled in history that goes far back as somee 3000 years. One of Tigray’s unique edifices of greatest historical archeological and architectural significance is the temple of yeha. Some 60 km east of Axum, the temple of Yeha is thought to have been built in the 8th century BC. Standing form more than two and half millennia, it’s the oldest building in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s a magnificent structure remarkably fall among other things, its structural strength, geometrical perfection, and architectural beauty.

Yeha was a center of the Da’amat kingdom that existed before Axum. Axum was the heart from which the pulse of this great civilization trolled. Its ruined palaces, tombs, majestic monuments, and inscriptions are attestations of its past glory. At one time it extended across the red sea to Yemen and was reckon by the 3rd century Persian historian Mani to be one of the fourth great powers of the ancient world alongside Persia, China and Roma.

Axum is the city with numerous mysterious remains that largely remain undiscovered. One of its best secrets is the presence of lost arch of the original covenant of god which is believed to contain the stone tablets on which god inscribed the 10 commandments. The arch was brought for Jerusalem to Axum after the visit to the holiest city by Menelik the 1st the son of King Solomon and Queen Shaba. Ever since then this holy object has been safely kept here within the compound of Mariam Tsion church. The well layed-out Axum archeological museum inside the North semi-field contains an interesting variety of objects found in the tunes ranging from ordinary house-hold objects such as lamps to quite sophisticated glass-ware beautiful lion gagools, a charming pot-shape like a tree legged with bird, well preserved savian and geez inscriptions, dating back over 2500 years.

The Cathedral church of St. Mary Tsion in Axum.
St. Mary Tsion cathedral church of Axum.

Two days visit to Tigray churches

The Axumite kingdom was famous for its economic prosperity, architectural indigeneity and cultural vibrancy. Arguably the obelisks in the ancient city of Axum are the best-known legacies of this great civilization. Beneath these obelisks are found wall tombs and what is certain is that these obelisks have no comparison any where in the world being the largest single pieces of stone ever erected. The largest and heaviest of all is the fallen obelisk. Decorated in all its four sides this 13 stair obelisk is 33m high and four meters wide while its estimated weight exceeds 500 tones. With 11 stairs the 2nd largest obelisk is 26m high and is decorated in all of its sides too. Looted by fascist Italy in 1937 it was taken to Rome in three pieces. It took 7 decades before Italy finally gave in to the intense diplomatic and popular pressure from Ethiopia and friends of Ethiopia to return the stolen obelisk to its origin. This is the third largest and still standing obelisk. This 10-stair obelisk remained in the same place and position ever since its erection. These unique and magnificent obelisks symbolize Axum’s technological superiority. Even today it’s still not understood how these massive monolithic edifices were curved, transported more than 4kms and erected.

Axum is Ethiopia’s Christian cavity built in the 4th century AD. In Axum the orginal church of st. Merry tsion (or mariam tsion) was the first church in sub-saharna Africa and perhaps one of the earliest church in the world. The city of Axum serves as the best for visiting a number of historiacal and religious sites including those in and around Yeha and Adwa. Very close to Yeha the sites of the battle of Adwa can easily be visited on foot. It was hear in 1896 against the dramatic back-trop of the mountains that makeup the teeth of Adwa that the fate of this great nation was decided. Here the ill-equipped and ill-trained Ethiopian militias drawn from all over the country delivered a stunning rebuff to the colonial ambitions of Italy and tie-up over embedding modern western army. Today Adwa remains a symbol of resistance that preserve the independence of this ancient country. A mile-stone in African history, the victory of Adwa also inspired back people around the world and all those being suffering under the European colonialism to stand-up and fight for their freedom. Dedicated to one of the nine saints the church of Abune Gerima has both religious and historical significance. The illustrated 16th century gospel is the only one of its kind, and is one of the notable treasures of the church. Less than 5km south east of the site for the battle of Adwa, the church has gained additional significance for being the burial place of Ras Alula Abanega, the famous Ethiopian military commando who defeated the invading Italian army.