Axum, Ethiopia’s most ancient city and capital of the historic Axumite kingdom – once one of the four kingdoms of the world, is the site of many remarkable monolithic stone obelisks, legends and birth place of Ethiopia.
There are three most important being decorated to represent multi-storied buildings, complete with doors and windows. The largest obelisk, which was 35 meters long and weighed 500 tons, is the biggest piece of stone ever cut by humanity anywhere in the world but today it lies broken on the ground. Near it stands a smaller but nevertheless most impressive 24m high obelisk – the pride of Ethiopia. A somewhat larger obelisk was taken to Rome, on the orders of the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, in 1937, and came back to Axum recently, re-erected on which it was. Axum, in its glory days, was a great commercial centre, issuing its own currency and trading with Egypt, Arabia, Persia, India & Israel.
Queen Makida (Queen of Sheba)
Axum was home to the Queen Makeda, widely known as Queen of Sheba whose ruined palace and bathing pool can still be found in and near the town.
The Ark of the Covenant & Church of St Mary of Zion
Axum is the location of the Church of St Mary of Zion, where The Ark of the Covenant, which housed the Ten Commandments of the Bible is said to have been placed by MenelikI (Ibin Hakim), son of King Solomon, 3000 years ago; a connection with the legendary Queen of Sheba (based on book of glory of kings) or transported from Jerusalem – Elephantine island, in Mediterranean sea – Cherkos Monastery on Lake Tana and finally from Cherkos Monastery to Axum by the command of first Christian King Ezana (4th Century) as it is explained in the book of The Sign & the Seal written Graham Hancook, a British journalist and travel writer. St. Mary of Zion Church is the oldest of all churches in Ethiopia, rich for its historic and ecclesiastical relics. The Ark of the Covenant- is apparently stored in the Church of St Mary of Zion, but only one living person (monk), the guardian of the Ark is allowed to see it. The story in connection with the Ark; any Ethiopian Orthodox Christian and some scholars like Graham Hancook assure you it is true!