Historic, holy and endlessly intriguing Axum
Legend has it that Axum is the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, the holiest of all Christian relics. This spiritual centre was once the capital of the mighty Axumite Empire and a bustling trade hub, and an Axum tour today allows you to explore all of the history contained in one of the country’s most prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
As your personal guide takes you on a tour of Axum the sense of history will be palpable. Though much of the grandeur of its palaces and churches has now faded, it continues to be the spiritual heart of Ethiopia. Under your feet wherever you tread will be ancient tombs, and the area all around you is a magnet for archaeologists. It’s amazing that, despite its historic and religious significance, only around 2 per cent of the city has been excavated to date, so who knows what you will uncover on your visit.
Arrange your Axum tour during the festival of Timkat, held every January, for an atmospheric and beguiling experience. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s Epiphany celebration is your best opportunity to see the Tabot, a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, that is carried through the city by the faithful. Dinner-party fodder for years to come.