Aksum is a place of legend in ancient Ethiopian culture. A resting place of kings and queens dating back to biblical times, the reign of the mysterious Queen Sheba, and the alleged resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
For those wishing to live out Tomb Raider fantasies, this is a great place to start!
Aksum was once a great kingdom dating back 3000 years controlling the Red Sea trade routes from india and the east to the mediterranean. Today the town itself is just a simple place, but it is under its surface where the true treasures lie.
A place of new discoveries for archaeologists as only around 10% of it’s secrets have been found meaning an amazing 90% of ancient hidden palaces, tombs, and stelae are awaiting discovery.
On a regular basis farmers digging on their land are finding more and more sites to be excavated, and the Ethiopian government are moving them of their lands for archaeologists to move in.
As a tourist it’s great walking between all the stelae and tombs, especially the tombs as they have a sense of foreboding about them. Descending into the dark entrances to the tombs an eerie feeling takes over. Not for those scared of the dark.
It is almost essential to take a guide there as there are so many hidden away in peoples backyards, it would be impossible to see them all.
In Ethiopian legend it is believed that when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple, King Solomon’s and Queen Sheba’s son rescued the Ark of the Covenant and brought it to Ethiopia.
Nowadays the Ethiopian orthodox church claims that it is hidden inside a church in Aksum, where only one priest is allowed to see it.
Kind of convenient that only one person is allowed to see it, as they could easily prove to the world it’s there by letting it be seen and examined by professionals. But if you ask most Ethiopian christians they believe they have the real Ark.
For those who loved Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the lost Ark visiting Aksum does live out some of those fantasies. To visit on a limited time it is best to fly from Addis Ababa as to get there by bus is hard and long taking around 20 hours from the capital.
If doing the historical circuit of Northern Ethiopia you would pass through Aksum on that loop, by bus or by plane.
Go watch Tomb Raider and Raiders of the lost Ark and get in the mood to see Aksum.
Take a look at my complete Ethiopia travel guide
and why you should go backpacking Ethiopia.