What to do and see in Axum, Ethiopia: The Best Places and Tips

December 22, 2017 Almeta Stockton

Axum or Aksum (Tigrinya: ኣኽሱም Ak̠ʷsəm, Amharic: አክሱም Ak̠sum) is a city in the northern part of Ethiopia. The town has a population of 56,500 residents (2010) and is governed as an urban wäräda.
Restaurants in Axum

1. The Ruins of Aksum

Axum, Ethiopia +251 91 155 3405
Excellent
44%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
16%
Poor
4%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 217 reviews

The Ruins of Aksum

The remains of once powerful royal capital contain impressive tombs and stelae.

Reviewed By marblau - Coquitlam, BC

There are many guides to chose from, but we were glad we chose "Zeray" ([email protected]) as he never disappointed us.
He maximized our time each day, meeting us at the airport, and then starting our tour driving out of town through outstanding countryside to visit the 2600 year old church in Yeha, and much more.
We then drove back into town, checked into our hotel and proceeded to see the sites in Axum.
Zeray was able to make the history of each site come alive for us, his information was precise and interesting. He kept us moving and we were able to see all the sites we wanted to by days end.
4 hours was enough to see Axum's historical sites.Combined with the drive through the extraordinary countryside made it a great day. Zeray, thanks for making the day so special.

2. Northern Stelae Field

Near St Mary of Zion Church, Axum, Ethiopia +251 91 337 2078
Excellent
50%
Good
41%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 77 reviews

Northern Stelae Field

Reviewed By asaa_roman - Addis Ababa

After visiting the Lion of Gobedra, the ruins of legendary Queen Makda's palace, and we moved to the Stele Field where heard heard and learned a lot about the pre-Christian Ethiopia. We had also a chance to visit one of Ethiopia's sacred places, Aksum Tsion Church (the new one built by Empreor Hailessilassie), and the older one by Gonderian king, Fasiledes, in the 17th century

3. New Church of St. Mary of Zion

Axum, Ethiopia
Excellent
29%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
31%
Poor
4%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 110 reviews

New Church of St. Mary of Zion

Reviewed By therapina - Limassol, Cyprus

Look across from the field of stellae and this church dominates the skyline. It,s big and not very beautiful but its significance is its position, right in front of the chapel said to contain the arc of the covenant. As the builder of the new St Mary of Zion, Haillie Selassi (or his wife) isn't always appreciated in his own country. Some say, shrugging their shoulders, that its the wrong building in the wrong place. You pay of course to enter, and the priest unlocks the door, and you leave your shoes behind. It's modern, light and airy and its size is definitely useful when the pilgrims flock here. We were shown the holy book by the priest and its brightly coloured paintings, the words and pictures being inscribed on the skin of a goat as we have seen elsewhere.

4. King Ezana's inscription

Enno Littmann St | 300 M North From May Shum, Axum, Ethiopia +251 91 362 5073
Excellent
28%
Good
41%
Satisfactory
30%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 66 reviews

King Ezana's inscription

Reviewed By RickMIusa - Grand Rapids, Michigan

Ethiopia really needs to find an understanding of what it means to curate cultural objects.....this stele is housed in a crumbling mud brick building and it's set in cement.....come on guys....this deserves a real building or at least housing in a proper museum......and get it out of the concrete and located so people can't touch it anymore.....this is your cultural heritage! We still though it worth a stop.

5. Tombs of Kings Kaleb and Gebre Meskal

Enno Littmann St, Axum, Ethiopia
Excellent
25%
Good
43%
Satisfactory
29%
Poor
3%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 54 reviews

Tombs of Kings Kaleb and Gebre Meskal

Reviewed By belleretraite - Montreal, Canada

First you need a guide to appreciate the value and the importance of this site ! This is a reminder of the greatness of the Ethiopian empire in the 6th century ! Unfortunatly , the site is not developed an lacks information !

6. St Mary of Zion

Axum, Ethiopia
Excellent
29%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
23%
Poor
11%
Terrible
3%
Overall Ratings

3.5 based on 85 reviews

St Mary of Zion

This church is rumored to be the hiding place of the biblical "Lost Ark."

Reviewed By LoveEthiopia - England, United Kingdom

Four main sites you see there:
1. The New church built by Haile Selassie: This is not an impressive imitation of Hagia Sophia of Constantinople, now Istanbul since the Turkish occupation of these lands. The mosaics of Hagia Sophia are being replaced by new paintings in the traditional Ethiopic fashion. The separate tower has no class. Though I am a fan of Haile Selassie, yet I was disappointed by his creation. Yet when you visit Hagia Sophia, that was turned to a mosque after the invasion, then Ataturk changed it to a museum for Erdogan to turned again to a mosque, yet you can see and feel the magnificence of the old Cathedral church and its mosaics.
2. The Monastery: where no women are allowed in memory of the chieftainess Gudit who destroyed and ravished the land. Inside, you see and feel the old traditionalist atmosphere of the typical Ethiopian church.
3. The very old church ruins which are overgrown by weeds and grass,
4. The relatively newish small churches the one which housed and the one which houses the "Ark of Covenant".
Great discussions and disputes can ensue if you argue the merit of the very deep entrenched believe of the locals, and all Ethiopians, that the real Ark is housed in Aksum. For those who want to delve more into this the best available source is the book by Graham Hancock: "The Sign and the Seal". Though I admire Graham efforts and research as presented in the book, However, I disagree with parts and with some conclusions. Just a warning: it is a very sensitive subject to the Ethiopians.
You can not be to Ethiopia and not visit this site!

7. Chapel of the Tablet

Axum, Ethiopia
Excellent
27%
Good
43%
Satisfactory
18%
Poor
10%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 37 reviews

Chapel of the Tablet

Reviewed By James H - Noosa Heads

Ok so the Arc is supposed to be inside but I wouldn't really call it a great attraction. You see it as you go into the monastery (sorry girls !) but you wouldn't travel around the world to see it.
Axum is an amazing place and really it is the culture and history that you are here for and not particularly the home of the Arc. It's an interesting story though.

8. Queen of Sheba Palace

Axum old road to shire. right side of the road before joining the new highway, Axum, Ethiopia
Excellent
11%
Good
46%
Satisfactory
37%
Poor
3%
Terrible
3%
Overall Ratings

3.5 based on 27 reviews

Queen of Sheba Palace

Reviewed By metooNY - Poughkeepsie, NY

But is it really the Queen of Sheba's palace? We toured this site with a guide; it is a short drive outside of the town of Aksum, and takes less than half an hour to tour. The site consists of thick-stone-walled rooms of an interesting layered construction (a mix of rubble, ashlar, and horizontal slates). One room, which our guide told us was the throne room, is clearly prominent with large steps from an outer court. There is also a brick oven in what was clearly the kitchen area, and a room with a floor drain that the guide said was the queen's shower. In several places there are stone scuppers for drainage. It is nice to stand on the stone dias and imagine you are standing where the Queen of Sheba herself once stood. However, a model of the site that we came across at the national museum states the building dates from around 600 - 700 AD. Either way, it makes for an interesting excursion!

9. Arabtu Ensessa Church

Behind St Mary of Zion Church, Axum, Ethiopia
Excellent
50%
Good
50%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 8 reviews

Arabtu Ensessa Church

Reviewed By Tanja S - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

This entrance to this church is behind St Mary's. Same entrance ticket. We were enchanted. Lovely place. Lovely murals as well. We very much liked!

10. Archeological Museum

Axum, Ethiopia
Excellent
25%
Good
63%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
12%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 8 reviews

Archeological Museum

Https://en.pointerst.com/et/showplace/arheologicheskij-muzej-aksuma

Reviewed By Gidons51 - Herzliya, Israel

A small museum with archeological objects , some dating back 2500 years . objects found in the tumbs . also some art pieces like paintings . some souvenirs shops at the exit.

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