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Sightseeing in Axum

In the morning we went for a 4.5 hour city tour leading us to the historic sites of the Kingdom of Axum. In summary, I found the sites not really impressive and had the feeling that much of the things we saw were declared an important site just to attract visitors and to bring money into the town.

Axum is considered the religious centre of Ethiopia and the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, which is considered the country’s most important church, can be found here. Every year in November a large number of pilgrims are visiting this site.

Our city tour started in the Northern Stelae Park featuring the Great Stele which is said to be fallen during construction and so you can only see the broken pieces lying around on the ground. A Stele is basically a tall stone which was erected during funerals. The Stelae Park also features an archaeological museum which was entertaining to visit since some of the descriptions were obviously wrong, e.g. that the town Aswan is situated in Sudan but actually it’s situated in Egypt.

Continuing the city tour we visited two tombs. They were also not too impressive since in comparison to the tombs we visited in Egypt and Sudan they didn’t have any paintings or anything special to see.

The next site was the Ezana Stone on which a trilingual conversation is engraved. It’s comparable to the Egyptian Rosetta Stone which can be found in the British Museum in London.

There is also a legend saying that Axum was home to the Queen of Sheba. Probably this queen never really existed but we were shown around places which were claimed to be her bath (looking like a mud hole) and the ruins of her palace (a bunch of unimpressive stones).

For lunch Michelle, Pierre and I went to the “International Restaurant” owned by an Ethiopian women and her American husband having some spicy spaghetti. In the afternoon we were not really in the mood for more sightseeing and decided to hang around the hotel and play some computer games.

It also happened that our fellow traveller Chris didn’t joined any sightseeing in Axum since his camera was stolen the night before. Chris spent the whole day to walk around in town speaking to the police and to all school classes in town hoping to get some hints who has stolen his camera. He also offered a reward of 500 Birr (30 USD) to the person returning at least the card with all his pictures on. However, his day was not successful and he was asked by the police to stay behind for a couple of days which he luckily didn’t do but continued with us the next morning.