Axum - The Ancient Kingdom  

Axum (also Aksum or Axoum) is Ethiopia's oldest urban settlement. It was the capital and major religious center and the seat of the Queen of Sheba in the 10th century B.C. Axum remains the site of many remarkable antiquities, including the famous monolithic obelisks or Stelae, ancient stone inscriptions, the ruins of the old palace of Queen of Sheba as well as graves of Axumite's kings and ancient gold, silver and bronze currency. Axum, in its day, was a great commercial centre, issuing its own currency, and trading with Egypt, Arabia, Persia, India, and even Ceylon.

The three giant monolithic Stelae are carved to represent multistoried buildings with a pseudo-door, different types of windows and the so-called "monkey-heads" in Axumite's architectural style. The largest obelisk, which was 33 meters long and weighed about 500 tons, is the biggest piece of stone ever hewn out by men from the quarries of the ancient world.

The city holds the church of Saint Mary of Zion with a small well-guarded chapel where Moses' original Ark of the Covenant is preserved in. Further attractions of the city are a Monastery for men from the 17th century erected by Emperor Fasiledes in the Gondarian architectural style and the ruin of Ethiopia's oldest church, dated back to the coming of Christianity as state religion in the early 4th century A.D.

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