Ethiopia

Aksum

Axum or Aksum is a city in the northern part of Ethiopia.

The original capital of the Kingdom of Aksum, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Africa. Axum was a naval and trading power that ruled the region from about 400 BCE into the 10th century. In 1980, UNESCO added Axum’s archaeological sites to its list of World Heritage Sites due to their historic value.

(Pictures taken in 2002)

Fasil Ghebbi

Fasil Ghebbi (Royal Enclosure) is the remains of a fortress-city within Gondar, Ethiopia. It was founded in the 17th century by Emperor Fasilides (Fasil) and was the home of Ethiopia’s emperors. Its unique architecture shows diverse influences including Nubian styles. The site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Ghebbi is an Amharic word for a compound or enclosure.

The complex of buildings includes Fasilides’ castle, Iyasu I’s palace, Dawit III’s Hall, a banqueting hall, stables, Empress Mentewab’s castle, a chancellery, library and three churches: Asasame Qeddus Mikael, Elfign Giyorgis and Gemjabet Mariyam.

Lalibela

Lalibela is a town in Amhara Region, Ethiopia famous for its rock-cut monolithic churches. The whole of Lalibela is a large antiquity of the medieval and post-medieval civilization of Ethiopia. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, second only to Axum, and a center of pilgrimage. Unlike Axum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian.

Ethiopia was one of the earliest nations to adopt Christianity in the first half of the fourth century, and its historical roots date to the time of the Apostles. The churches themselves date from the seventh to thirteenth centuries, and are traditionally dated to the reign of the Zagwe king Gebre Mesqel Lalibela (r. ca. 1181–1221).

The layout and names of the major buildings in Lalibela are widely accepted, especially by local clergy, to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem. This has led some experts to date the current church forms to the years following the capture of Jerusalem in 1187 by the Muslim leader Saladin.

The Rock-Hewn Churches were declared a World Heritage site in 1978.

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