Destinations

 
 
 
 
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Gondar is a royal and ancient historical city of Ethiopia. The walled city of Fasil Ghebbi of Gondar is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is part of the famous Ethiopia Historical Circuit.
It was the home of many emperors and princesses who led the country from the 12th century to the last decade of the 20th century, including Emperor Suseneos, Emperor Fasiledes, Empress Mentwab, Iyasu I, Tewodros II and Empress Taitu. The region is the home of the highest mountain in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen, and the Simien Mountains National Park.
 
 
 
 
 
 
DescriptionGondar is 50 kilometres north of Lake Tana, 500 kilometres north of Addis Ababa and nestles in the foothills of the Simien mountains at 2,200 metres above sea level. Gondor was the capital of Ethiopia from the rise of Fasilades to the fall of Tewodros (1855-68) which is reflected in the many castles and palaces in the city.Attractions CastlesThe city's main imperial precinct, known as the Royal Enclosure, covers an area of 7.7 hectares and contains five castles, raised walkways and connecting tunnels surrounded by high stone walls.The oldest of these is the Castle of Fasilades. Built of stone in the mid-17th century it reflects a number of influences, Axumite, Portuguese and Indian. The upper storey offers panoramic views and Lake Tana is visible on a clear day. The castle has been renovated recently. Fasilades grandson, Lyasu the great, built his own castle and decorated it with ivory, gold and precious stones but an earthquake in the early 19th caused severe damage. Other AttractionsThe palace of Ras Beit, was built in the 18th century as a private residence of the famous king maker, Ras Mikael Sehul and has been in continuos occupation ever since. Bath of Fasilades is a sunken pool still used for the Timkat Festival in January.
 
 
 
 

AKSUM

 
 
 
 
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Axum was the center of the marine trading power known as the Aksumite Kingdom, which predated the earliest mentions in Roman-era writings. Around 356 CE, its ruler was converted to Christianity by Frumentius. Later, under the reign of Kaleb, Axum was a quasi-ally of Byzantium against the Sasanian Empire which had adopted Zoroastrianism. The historical record is unclear, with ancient church records the primary contemporary sources.It is believed it began a long and slow decline after the seventh century due partly to the Persians and then the Arabs contesting old Red Sea trade routes. Eventually Aksum was cut off from its principal markets in Alexandria, Byzantium and Southern Europe and its trade share was captured by Arab traders of the era. The Kingdom of Aksum was finally destroyed by Empress Gudit
 
 
 
 
 
 
and eventually some of the people of Aksum were forced south and their old way of life declined. As the kingdom's power declined so did the influence of the city, which is believed to have lost population in the decline, similar to Rome and other cities thrust away from the flow of world events. The last known (nominal) king to reign was crowned in about the 10th century, but the kingdom's influence and power ended long before that.Its decline in population and trade then contributed to the shift of the power center of the Ethiopian Empire south to the Agaw region as it moved further inland. The city of Axum was the administrative seat of an empire spanning one million square miles. Eventually, the alternative name (Ethiopia) was adopted by the central region, and subsequently, the present modern state.
 
 
 
 

LALIBELA

 
 
 
 
 
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The legend of Lalibela
Ever since the first European to describe the rock churches of Lalibela, Francisco Alvarez, came to this holy city between 1521 and 1525, travellers have tried to put into words their experiences. Praising it as a “New Jerusalem”, a “New Golgotha”, the “Christian Citadel in the Mountains of Wondrous Ethiopia”. The inhabitants of the monastic township of Roha-Lalibela in Lasta, province of Wollo, dwelling in two storeyed circular huts with dry stonewalls, are unable to believe that the rock churches are entirely made by man. They ascribe their creation to one of the last kings of the Zagwe dynasty, Lalibela, who reigned about 1200 A.D.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Zagwe dynasty had come to power in the eleventh century, one hundred years after Queen Judith, a ferocious woman warrior had led her tribes up from the Semyen mountains to destroy Axum, the capital of the ancient Ethiopian empire in the north.The charming Ethiopian folklore pictures telling the story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, which are sold in Addis Ababa, give a popular version of how not only the dynasty of ancient Axum (and present day Ethiopia) descended from King Solomon, but also the medieval Zagwe dynasty. The Queen of Sheba gave birth to Menelik, who became the first King of Ethiopia. But the handmaid of the Queen, too, gave birth to a son whose father was King Solomon, and her son was the ancestor of the Zagwe dynasty.The Zagwe kings ruled until the thirteenth century, when a famous priest, Tekla Haymanot, persuaded them to abdicate in favour of a descendant of the old Axumite Solomonic dynasty.
 
 
 
 
 

Ark of The Covenant

 
 
 
 
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The monks who live in the small church of Saint Mary of Zion — also known as the “Chapel of the Ark” — in the sacred Ethiopian city of Aksum are forbidden to go beyond the bars surrounding the chapel.
They cannot abandon the task entrusted to them: to watch over the “Tabot,” as the Tables of the Law are known in Ethiopia, until the day they die.
Abba Gebre Meskel, who is 56 years old, has been doing it for three decades.

 
 
 
 
 
 
According to the Book of Exodus, the Tables of the Law contain the ten commandments God gave Moses high atop Mount Sinai. Some would date the event to the year 1440 BC.Apocryphal legends, part of common knowledge and tradition in northern Africa and some regions in the Middle East, attribute supernatural powers to the Tables. Around these legends, some others were woven, including the alleged Nazi obsession with occultism and relics that would give Indiana Jones one of his most famous missions.But the truth is that, after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, nobody knows for sure where the Ark of the Covenant ended up. After disappearing without a trace – and with no known register of its whereabouts – its whereabouts (assuming it survived the destruction of the Temple) is still one of archaeology’s greatest mysteries.Nevertheless, almost 45 million Orthodox Christian Ethiopians are certain that the Ark of the Covenant was taken, almost 3000 years ago, to Aksum, in northern Ethiopia, and that it has been guarded ever since by these monks in the humble church of Saint Mary of Zion.
 
 
 
 

QUEEN SHEBA BATH

 
 
 
 
 
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Axum in northern Ethiopia is strongly associated with the Queen of Sheba.

Why is this significant? It is important because it has allowed many Ethiopian dynasties, right down to Emperor Haile Selassie I, to claim kinship with and descent from King Solomon. That's right, THE King Solomon.

The Selamta Website states:

"According to the Old Testament, The Queen of Sheba was born in Axum, but travelled to Israel to meet King Solomon. They had a son named Menelik, who later became the first emperor of Ethiopia. Menelik brought the original Arc [sic] of the Covenant back to Ethiopia from Israel." www.selamta.net/axum.htm

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians believe the Ark of the Covenant is housed in Axum. Accounts differ as to whether the Ark has remained in Axum since Menelik brought it there from Israel, or whether the Ark reposed at other locations in Ethiopia before it came to Axum. But I am getting ahead of myself.

On the other hand, some historians maintain the Queen of Sheba was a legendary figure who may not have existed, or at the very least they are unable to agree on the location of her kingdom.

 
 
 
 
 
 
And yet, in May, 2008, archaeologists announced they had found the Queen of Sheba's palace in Axum, and had even identified the altar that may have housed the Ark of the Covenant. The site, dating to the tenth century before the current era, reportedly contained dense deposits of materials that pointed to sacrificial activity commensurate with the presence of an object as sacred as the Ark of the Covenant . www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601100&sid=aHkn1LT4...

Whatever the actual facts might be, this large reservoir in Axum romantically named "The Bath of the Queen of Sheba" is a pleasant spot. The people of Axum still use it, as can be seen from this photo. I like the contrast between the barren rock on the left, which shows traces of ancient paths and terraces, and the brightly-painted Ethiopian Orthodox church in the shade of a eucalyptus grove on the right.
 
 
 
 
 

OMO VALLEY

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Omo Valley is undoubtedly one of the most unique places on earth because of the wide variety of people and animals that inhabit it. It is located in Africa's Great Rift Valley. The region is known for its culture and diversity.The tribes that live in the lower Omo Valley are believed to be among the most fascinating on the continent of Africa and around the world. Tours are offered to several towns and villages. It is often you come into contact with the following tribes: Arbore, Ari, Bena, Bodi, Bumi, Daasanech (Geleb), Dorze, Hamer (Hamar), Kara (or Karo), Konso, Kwegu (or Muguji), Mursi, Tsemay, and Turkana when you tour the valley.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Omo River runs through the valley and empties into Lake Turkana. The river is an important resource and without it the tribes and animals in Southern Ethiopia would not survive. In 2006 work began on the Gibe III dam. The dam will block part of the Omo River which experts state will impact the ecosystem, tribes and animals that live in the valley.
After the earliest known discovery of Homo Sapien (Human) fossil fragments were found. The lower Omo Valley and Lake Turkana which is primarly located in Kenya, have both been declared World Heritage sites by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization or (UNESCO).
Omovalley.com offers interesting information and quality photo images of the tribes, animals, rivers and national parks that are found in this remote area of the world. Schedule a trip to the Omo Valley or surrounding areas here.