It is found in the most north part of Ethiopia, 55km north east of Axum. It is known for being the birth place of Ethiopian civilization and the first capital of Ethiopia beforeAxum. It is believed that it had been established by the South Arabian immigrants who settled in the region around 1millinium B.C years. Yeha`s single most remarkable antiquity is a well reserved stone temple that stand 12m high , consists of up to 52 layers of masonry. Some of the sandstone building blocks of the temple measure over 3m in length and are so perfectly dressed and fitted together. The temple of Yeha was dedicated to the moon god of Arabia called Allmukah. This ancient temple was also transformed to be a church in the 6th cen. The temple speaks eloquently of the works of an early high civilization of Ethiopians.
Wonchi crater lake is located on the mountain range between the town of Ambo and Woliso.This beautiful lake is situated at altitude of about 3000m above sea level.Wonchi contains hotsprings,waterfalls and breathtaking valleys and scenery.In the island, an old monastry named Cherkos is found. Beside all this Wonchi is the home of indigenous forest reserves. Wonchi is a paradise for trekkers.
TIGRAI - ROCK HEWN CHURCHES
Tigrai is a province which is located in the most northern part of Ethiopia. It is famous for being the home of many rock-hewn churches. There are about 120 churches scattered in places like Geralta, Tsaeda Imba, Haramat, Atsbi and Ganta Afeshum. No one knows the exact time of the construction of the Tigrai churches but most of them must have been constructed between the 4th cen – 13th). In Geralta, one can see a quarter of the rock hewn churches along with the most spectacular scenery of Mount Geralta and the far-reaching Hawzien plain. The other churches can be seen between the town of Adigrat and Mekele, the capital of Tigrai province. The main features of the Tigrai churches are inaccessible due to the security reason of the medieval time and they are generally sculpted into cliff faces or into pre-existing caves.
It is one of the most and greatest religio-historical places in Ethiopia. Lying in the rugged Lasta Mountain, Lalibela is a monastic medieval settlement usually identified as museum of rock –hewn churches. Lalibela formerly known as Roha was the capital city for the Zagwe dynasty in the 12th and 13th cen .which was established by the Agew people who were among the ancient inhabitants of the northern Ethiopia .It is believed that there were 11 recognized kings who ruled the dynasty. King Lalibela was the most popular king of all and spent most of his reign constructed the most amazing rock hewn church at Lalibela. The King probably tried to build a New Jerusalem in Ethiopian soil. The churches of Lalibela are unofficial eighth wonders of the world and registered under UNESCO as a world heritage. The well known rock hewn churches of Lalibela are eleven in number and each building is architecturally unique and several of them are decorated with fascinating rock paintings. According to their location, they are divided in to three groups separated by the seasonal river Jordan .The first group of churches consists of 6 churches are found in the north west and symbolizes the earthly Jerusalem. The second groups of churches are situated in west and they are symbolizing the heavenly Jerusalem. The final work of Lalibela, Bet-Giorgis is situated in isolated place from both groups.(picture)
The walled city of Harar was founded by a local Emir Abu Bekr Mohammed in 1520 by moving his capital from Dakar, a nearby settlement. Shortly after the establishment of Harar ,Abu Bekr was killed and replaced by the popular militant Imam called Ahmed Ibn al Ghazi, nicked named Mohammed Gragn who launched a holy war “Jihad” against Christians in the northern highland in 1527. After 15 years of devastative war Ahmed was killed in 1543. The city, impoverished by war, faced many difficulties. The Oromo tribes advances into the surrounding countryside, isolating Harar caused Gragn`s nephew and successor, Nur Ibn al Wzir Mujahid, to erect strong encircling walls(5m high) around the town of Harar in 1560. Ever since that time, the wall has been one of the city’s most dominant feature. The walled city flourished in stature over the next centuries till the occupation of Egypt in 1875. Harar was the most popular trade center in the region, issuing its own currency. In the 17th and 18th cen Harar was known as an important center of Islamic scholarship and it became is the seat for more than ninety mosque and shrines. The mosque of Al Jami is considered as the main building with in the wall .It was built on the 16th cen. Harar is now considered to be the fourth most sacred center of the Islamic world and recorded as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO. Other features inside the walled city is the so called the house of Rambou ,whom once have lived in Harar for quite some time ,trading and writing poetry for his public and the impressive octagonal cathedral of Medhanealem (redeemer of the world) constructed in the 19th cen by emperor Menlik .The church contains many traditional and religious works of Art.
Gondar as sometimes called African’s Camelot was founded by king Fasildes in 1636. Surrounded on all sides by fertile and well watered land, and at the intersection of three major caravan routes, Gondar was the perfect place for the capital. Gondar became the first permanent capital since Lalibela and served for more than 250 years. Gondar is well known for its many medieval castles and the design and decoration of its churches. The imperial enclosure lies at the center of the town covering an area of 70,000 sq m has six castles, a complex of connecting tunnels and raised walkways and several buildings. The earliest most impressive castle in the compound is the castle of Fasildes which was built by the king himself . The finest of the Gonderine churches is that of Debrebirhan Sellassie or “Trinity at Mount of Light”, which stands on raised ground to the north-east of town. The ceilings of the church are decorated with beautiful winged angels and its walls with impressive scenes depicting biblical events including the life of Christ, Mary and Saint and martyrs. Gondar was the center of art, literature, culture, trade and architecture and the Gonderine period in general is believed to be one of the most colorful periods in Ethiopian history.
Debre Damo is located 86 km north east of Axum on a cliff top in one of the wildest part of Tigrai province. Debre Damo is unique and unforgettable place because the only way to get in to the church is only by rope. Debre Damo boasts the oldest standing church in the country from 6th cen. and is the best surviving example of the ancient Axumite architecture. Remote and beautiful, Debre Damo is far from hustle and bustle of the 21st cen, the cool celestial islands of rock offers panoramic view over the surrounding countryside and complete seclusion and peace for the hundred or so monks and deacons who live there. The monastery’s treasures include an extensive collection of illuminated manuscripts and the intricate carving on the beams and ceiling of the ancient church around which the monastery is built.(picture)
The Danakil depression as sometimes known as Afar Depression is geological depression results from the presence of a tectonic triple near the horn of Africa .It covers the part of Ethiopia region of Afar, Eritrea, Red Sea and Djibouti. The Afar region is known for its being the cradle of hominids. In 1974, archeologist found an old fossil called Lucy with the age of 3.2 millions. The Denakil Depression includes the Afar desert and the lowest place in the planet, Dallol, one of the hottest year round .There is no rain for most of the year but the Awash river ends in chain of salt lakes, where its water evaporates as quickly as it is supplied. The people who are living in the region are Afar tribes, they are pastoralists and some of them engaged in salt mining as the depression is covered with salt. The most attraction in the region is Ertale. Active volcano, which is so magnificent attraction due to its different colorful lava flowing from the crust of the earth.
BAHR DAR AND LAKE TANA
It is located 563 km to the north west of Addis Ababa .Covering 3600 sq km, set at an altitude of 1830 m, Lake Tana is the largest lake of Ethiopia. Lake Tana is known to Greeks as Pseboe and to Egyptians as Coloe. Lake Tana area was one of the most historical, cultural, political centers in the medieval Ethiopia .It is also known to be the home of the Felasha people (Ethiopian Jews) whom have been airlifted to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s. Lake Tana served as the political and spiritual focus of the Christian empire from 13th-17th cen .Several political centers emerged on and around lake Tana`s ashore. There are 37 islands scattered in Lake Tana. Twenty of these islands shelters churches and monasteries of significant historical and cultural interest. The monasteries are decorated with beautiful paintings and holds priceless illustrated manuscripts, historic crowns, and fine royal and ecclesiastical robes. The largest and the most important tourist centers in the LakeTana area is Bahirdar.It is situated on the southern shore of Lake Tana, It is very attractive town to tourist because of its wide avenue lined with palm and flamboyant trees, and it is the base from which to explore the Blue Nile falls commonly known as Tis-Isat fall which means “water that smokes” and the island monasteries of Lake Tana.
Once, a great commercial center, trading via the Red Sea port of Adulis, and founded perhaps 3000 years ago, Axum was one of Ethiopia’s sites of ancient civilization. The history of Axum is integral to that of the famous the Axumite kingdom which emerged in the 1st cen. AD and lasted in the 10th cen A.D. Axum is well known for its famous huge granite steles erected just north of the town .The largest monolith in the world, measuring over 33 m and weighing 500tons, believed to have fallen and broken during construction. The second is 24 meter high had also broken it to pieces before shipped to Rome in 1937 by the order of Bonito Mussolini but returned back to Axum in 2005 and re-erected in its original site. The third largest stele which is slightly smaller, measuring 23m still stands at Axum. There are also uncurved, smooth steles in the stele fields. Other marvelous attractions of the town include ruin palaces, royal tombs, ruin temples. Our Lady Mary of Zion churches one was built by Fasildes in the 17th cen (not accessed to woman) and the new church built by the late emperor Haileselassie I in 1965 along with its museum are famous attraction one can not miss in Axum. The Ethiopian Orthodox church claims the church of St.Mary of Zion in Axum houses the Biblical Ark of Covenant. Beside all this facts Axum is the first place in Sub-Sahara countries to accept Christianity and Islam religion in the 4th and 7thcen respectively.