Aksum, also written Axum, is an ancient city on the northern part of Ethiopia. It was the location of the ancient Kingdom of Aksum, which flourished between the 1st to the 13th century AD, and was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia.
Aksum is one of the holiest and most important pilgrimage sites in Ethiopia. This is because of the Ethipian Orthodox Church belives that the Biblical Ark of the Covenant is housed in the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion there. The church is where successive Ethiopian emperors were crowned. The Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate the T'imk'et Festival - that parallels Ephiphany in western Christianity, commemorating the visit of the Magis to the Baby Jesus - on 7 January, and the Festival of Maryam Zion in late November.
Today much of the ruins of Aksum are still visible, including monolithic obelisks, stone tablets, royal tombs and castles. Even after the decline of Aksum towards the 10th century, Ethiopian emperors continued to be crowned in Aksum.
Aksum was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the 4th session of the World Heritage Committee, which convened in Paris, France, on 1-5 September, 1980.
Photos of Aksum
Chapel of the Ark of the Covenant, Aksum, Ethiopia
Author: Adam Cohn (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)
Obelisk of King Ezanas, Aksum
Author: Pzbinden7 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)
World Heritage Site Inscription Details
Location: N 14 7 48.684 E 38 43 6.996
Inscription Year: 1980
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: I, IV
Location Map of Aksum
Aksum is number 4 on the map.
View UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ethiopia in a larger map
The most practical way to reach Aksum is by flight. There are daily flights from Addis Ababa to Aksum airport. From the airport there are taxis to town. You have to prepare for hard bargaining.