AXUM OBELISKS, STELAE & MONUMENTS: WORLD HERITAGE SITE, the cultural center of Tigray, Ethiopia's oldest culture dating back 3000yrs with many monuments


Stelae of Axum, Ethiopia, "Obelisks"

The kingdom of Axum lasted from the first to the eighth centuries AD. Positioned at the crossroads of three continents, Africa, Arabia and the Mediterranean. is was the most powerful nation between the Roman empire and Persia and it was the first state to formerly adopt Christianity around 325 AD. It also briefly granted asylum to some of the early followers of Mohammed in the seventh century. Ruins of palaces, buildings and tombs cover a wide area in the Tigray Plateau, the most impressive being the Axum, Ethiopia stelae or obelisks at the stelae field of present day Axum. Several stelae date between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.


A picture is worth a thousand words. Most of our hundreds of pictures are favored in Google! Why? Because no other website has so many beautiful high resolution pictures, all taken by ourselves. Our pictures not only show you the beauty of Ethiopia, but they also show that we have been everywhere when we researched all parks for the Ethiopian Wildlife Autharity, photographing wildlife, plants, people and culture. Read our PDF report to the Government on Parks an Culture! So why consider booking our our Ethiopia Culture & National Parks modules? Because only we combine the culture of Ethiopia with its nature. We don't mislead you like many tour operators do. When the Blue Nile falls are dry.... we tell you. When fog clouds the lava lake of Erte Ale Volcano? We let you know. Just drop us a mail  and we will check it out for you.

Our tours take you to ALL famous cultural places of Ethiopia, and on top of that, you get to see up to 20 large parks accompanied by a conservation professional, not a mere guide. There is nothing similar on the market. Check out our tours in modules like: Historical Circuit; Danakil Depression; Eastern Route; Simien Mountains; Bale Mountains; Southern Parks Safari; Gambella; Addis Ababa. BUT WAIT: if you buy your international ticket with Ethiopia Airlines, they will sell the internal flights at a price that you can't even ride the bus for. But you MUST plan it all in one package and making changes may be very costly. So let us help you plan your entire trip and book your local flights for an incredibly low price after you booked your international flight with Ethiopian Airlines! Also: Ethiopia can be combined with other East African countries, we organize.




Ethiopia Historical Monuments by car

9 days. Price: $890 per person, minimum 4. Hotels, meals, transportation, fees, non-alcoholic beverages, tee/coffee at meals included. Minimum 2 passengers.

Ask for group discount.

Ethiopia Historical Monuments by plane

5 days. Price: $890 per person approximately, pending flight costs. Transportation, entry fees, meals, etc. Prices may vary depending on fluctuating air fairs. The itinerary will be adjusted according to flights Minimum 2 passengers.  Longer itineraries at additional hotel costs allow for a more relaxed program.

Day 1: ADDIS ABABA - BAHIR DAR, road distance ? 580km;

  1. Stop at the bridge across the Blue Nile Gorge, comparable in size to the Grand Canyon in the USA and supposedly the largest canyon of Africa;

  2. In the evening visit the Blue Nile falls if arrival before dark;

  3. Hotel in Bahir Dar.


  1. Morning Flight to Bahir Dar

  2. Visit Blue Nile Falls and Portuguese Bridge;

  3. Hotel in Bahir Dar.

Day 2: LAKE TANA - BLUE NILE FALLS, road distance ? 35km

  1. Day excursion by boat on Lake Tana to visit several of the famous Lake Tana churches and monasteries;

  2. Visit of the Blue Nile Falls;

  3. Sleep at Hotel.

Day 2: BAHIR DAR - GONDAR - by car

  1. Early morning half day excursion by boat on Lake Tana to visit several of the famous Lake Tana churches and the origin of the Blue Nile to watch Hippos;

  2. Afternoon drive to Gondar;

  3. Visit Royal Enclosure with the palaces of 6 kings, including Fasilides Castle;

  4. Visit Fasimile's Bath;

  5. Hotel in Gondar.

Day 3: BAHIR DAR - GONDAR, road distance ? 175km

  1. The Devil's Nose Rock, is a basaltic monolith or hoodoo, located near the village of Addis Zemen, 75km north Bahir Dar on the road to Gondar. On its top is an important roost and possibly nesting place for Ruepell's and other vultures.

  2. Check in in the hotel at Gondar after which a visit to Mentewab's Dining Room (Kusquam) and/or Fasimile's Bathroom depending on available time;

  3. Hotel in Gondar.


  1. Time permitting Visit Mentewab's Castle very early in the morning;

  2. Morning flight to Lalibela;

  3. Church treasures museum Lalibela;

  4. Visit the Northern and Southern rock hewn church complexes;

  5. Hotel in Lalibela.


Day 4: GONDAR - AXUM, road distance ? 350km

  1. Early in the morning visit the City fortress with the palaces of 6 kings;

  2. Road trip to Axum;

  3. Coffee ceremony;

  4. Hotel in Axum.


  1. Early morning excursion to the Southern Complex;

  2. Flight to Axum;

  3. Visit the Stelae compound;

  4. Visit the Tsion Mariam  Church where the Arc of the Covenant is held and the 16th century church on the same complex, which is much more interesting;

  5. Visit Emperor Kaleb's Palace;

  6. Coffee ceremony at a ceremony in a friend's home

  7. Hotel.


Day 5: AXUM - MEKELLE, road distance  ? 250km

  1. Visit the famous beautiful Stellae at Axum;

  2. Visit Queen Sheba's Palace (officially Dongar Palace);

  3. Gudit Stelae Field opposite the palace;

  4. Debre Liqanos Monastery;

  5. Queen Sheba's Pool (May Shum);

  6. Enzana Enscription, a 3-lingual stone describing a battle of King Enzana

  7. King Basen's Tomb;

  8. Ride to Mekelle;

  9. On the way, visit Yeha Temple;

  10. Hotel in Mekelle.


  1. Visit Queen Sheba's Palace (officially Dongar Palace);

  2. Gudit Stelae Field opposite the palace;

  3. Debre Liqanos Monastery;

  4. Queen Sheba's Pool (May Shum);

  5. Enzana Enscription, a 3-lingual stone describing a battle of King Enzana

  6. King Basen's Tomb;

  7. Flight to Addis Ababa.


Day 6: MEKELE - WUKRO - MEKELLE, road distance  ? 45km

  1. Visit Rock Hewn Churches in Wukro;

  2. Visit Palace Emperor Yohannes IV;

  3. Hotel in Mekelle.


Day 7: MEKELE - LALIBELA, road distance ? 430km

  1. Leave early in the morning for Lalibela;

  2. Church treasures museum Lalibela

  3. Hotel in Lalibela.


Day 8: LALIBELA - DESSIE, road distance ? 300km

  1. Visit the churches of Lalibela;

  2. Drive to Dessie;

  3. Hotel in Dessie.


Day 9: DESSIE - ADDIS ABABA road distance ? 340km

  1. last day of the Ethiopia Historical Monuments and return trip to Addis Ababa;

  2. Transfer to hotel.




While other stelae fields are known, such as the Gudit stelae field, none equal the scale and majestic designs at this UNESCO world heritage site. In fact, stelae of Axum were carved mainly from a rock similar to granite and are very weather-resistant. The erection of stelae in the Axumite empire was a very old practice for marking graves and underground burial chambers, some of which can still be seen at the Axum Stelae Field.


The most famous stela is the Obelisk of Axum a 1,700-year-old, 24-metre-tall obelisk, which was take by the Italians in 1937 during the occupation and returned to Axum in 2005 and re-erected in 2008.


AXUM STELAE [10 FACTS]: Axum Obelisk

AXUM OBELISKS [10 FACTS]: Axum Stelae, Ethiopia.

AXUM STELAE [10 FACTS]: Axum Stelae Field

AXUM OBELISKS [10 FACTS]: Axum Stelae field.

In fact, Axum, Ethiopia stelae field is a UNESCO World Heritage site.


AXUM STELAE [10 FACTS]: Axum Museum

AXUM OBELISKS [10 FACTS]: Injera dinner, Ethiopia

The Axum museum has a great collection of historical artefacts and is well worth visiting.

Hospitality at the home of a local family.


Tsion Maryam Cathedral

The Tsion Maryam Cathedral is the holiest place of worship of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and in importance comparable to the Vatican to the Roman Catholic Church. Supposedly it is home to the the Ark of the Covenant. According to legend, the Ark was taken from the ancient city of Jerusalem by a man named Menelik who was thought to be the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. He is said to have brought it home to Ethiopia for safe keeping and stored it at Tana Cherkos monastery for 800 years - a claim supported by records preserved in the Ethiopian Royal Chronicles. Whether  it concerns an ancient replica or the real ark, we will never know, as only once a year, the high priest of the Cathedral may enter the sanctorum and he is the only person alive ever having seen the holy relic. It is very unlikely that the Ethiopian Church will allow a scientific analysis to take place very soon. And lets be fair. Why would we want to de-sacrifice such beautiful myth? The actual location of the Ark is the chapel adjacent to the cathedral.


AXUM STELAE [10 FACTS]: Tsion Maryam Cathedral

AXUM OBELISKS [10 FACTS]: Chapel at Tsion Maryam Cathedral with the Arc of the Convenant

Tsion Maryam Cathedral.


Chapel at Tsion Maryam Cathedral with the Arc of the Convenant


Emperor Kaleb's Palace

Recent restorations reveal some of the walls of Emperor Kaleb's palace, who abdicated in favor of his son Gebre Meskel around the year 550. More conspicuous is the tomb with two sarcophaguses, supposedly belonging to both emperors.


Mai Shum, Queen Sheba's swimming pool

Another interesting monument is Mai Shum, popularly referred to as Queen Sheba's swimming pool. While it is doubful that the reservoir has served as the swimming pool of the mythical Queen Sheba, there is little doubt that the reservoir has played in important role in the Axumite history. As with so many monuments in Ethiopia, it has been somewhat restored but poorly so. But maybe that is the charm of a country that has gone it's own way, and which is lacking the sophistication of western restoration standards.


AXUM STELAE [10 FACTS]: Emperor Kaleb's Palace, Axum, Ethiopia

Above: Emperor Kaleb's Palace.


AXUM OBELISKS [10 FACTS]: Mai Shum, Queen Sheba's Swimming Pool

   Queen Sheba's Pool or Mai Shum.


AXUM STELAE [10 FACTS]: King Kaleb's Tomb

AXUM OBELISKS [10 FACTS]: Emperor Kaleb's and Emperor Gebre Meskel's Tombs

Entrance to Kaleb's and Gebre Meskel's tombs.

Kaleb's and Gebre Meskel's tombs.


Basket industry

Axum has a number of great local art shops that specialize in colorful baskets.


AXUM STELAE [10 FACTS]: Basket shop, Axum, Ethiopia

AXUM STELAE [10 FACTS]: Souvenir shop, Axum, Ethiopia


Ethiopia modernizes and changes more rapidly than any other country in Africa. Many features may not be there anymore in the near future. If you want to see it the way it was for thousands of years, see it now before it has changed forever! Compose your own once-in-a-lifetime Ethiopia-Africa-Adventure from our affordable modules:

Famous Ethiopia Historical Circuit

Simien Mountains trek or car visit

Danakil Depression and Erte Ale Volcano Expedition

Awash Babile Harar Safari Tour

Ethiopia Central and Southern Parks & Tribes Safari Tour

Bale Mountains National Park and Sof Omar Caves Tour

Gambella National Park Safari

Addis Ababa City Tour & Airport Transfer

All Ethiopia modules and prices together

We designed our itineraries in such a way that you can compose a 1 to 4 weeks journey from different modules that can show you the entire country or just the parts that interest you, all depending on your personal preferences, available time and budget. Email us on your interests and we can discuss a custom program with you by phone (we have phone lines from the USA and Europe) or skype. So, weather you have a great ethnic affinity, are a birdwatcher or want to go on safari, contact us and we work out a customized program that focuses on YOUR interests.

Blue Nile Falls, EthiopiaSt. George Church, LalibelaStellas, Axum, EthiopiaTukuls, Lalibela, EthiopiaElephant bull, Babile, EthiopiaEthiopian Wolf, Bale National Park

Gelada, Simien Mountains National ParkFacilides Bathroom, Gondar, EtiopiaWabia Ibex, Simien MountainsChurch, Lake Tana, EthiopiaErica trees, Bale Mountains National Park.Facilides Castle, Gondar, Ethiopia

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is home of Ethiopian Airlines, featuring Africa's youngest fleet of the latest intercontinental jet airplanes - including 2 Dreamliners - as well as short-distance Bombardier turboprops for affordable and reliable in-country flights servicing all major cities of Ethiopia. The best airline of Africa, will fly you non-stop from the USA and Europe to Addis Ababa. Take our 1-week Ethiopia Cultural Monuments Tour and then continue for your Kenya or Tanzania safari - or any other East African capital - thus completing your journey. IF YOU BUY YOUR INTERNATIONAL TICKET FROM ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES, YOU WILL GET MOST INTERNAL FLIGHTS FOR $40 - $70 PER LEG! BUT CHANGING AFTERWARDS IS EXPENSIVE, SO WORK OUT A SCHEDULE WITH US TO GET A FABULOUS DEAL FOR FLYING THROUGH THE COUNTRY IN STEAD OF SPENDING ENDLESS TIME ON THE ROAD!!!

What makes us different from so many other tour operators?

Just look at the quality of our high resolution pictures. We took them all ourselves. We have thousands of high resolution pictures on this website, that you can see enlarged by clicking on them. These pictures show that we have been everywhere in the country of your interest and really know the details. We are professional explorers and biologists with MSc and PhD.


National Parks Tours Worldwide, a social responsibility and conservation company, is a brand name of the World Institute for Conservation & Environment, registered in the Netherlands with headquarters in the USA.


Phone USA:

(++)(1) 304 - 901 - 0718


Phone Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

(++251) (0) 911 440 915




Skype: ecotravelworldwide