LALIBELA – The African Jerusalem
Lalibela, a medieval settlement in the Lasta area of Whelo is a site of 11 remarkable rock-hewn monolithic churches believed to have been built by King Lalibela in the late 12th century. These notable structures are carved inside and out from the volcanic rock in which they stand and are considered among the wonders of the world. Each building is structurally unique but all are beautifully carved and several of them decorated with fascinating paintings.
Lalibela is known for the most impressive churches considered as a work of sculpture dedicated to the glory of God. It offers an experience of impressive and mysterious churches which are carved out of red volcanic tuff on which they stand. Some lying completely hidden in deep trenches and others standing in quarried caves, all are complex in architecture and super human in scale of workman ship and concept.
Axum - The home of ancient civilization
Axum is a town of Legends offering a glimpse to a truly remarkable past. It is littered with the ruins of palaces, underground tombs, mysterious monolithic stelae carved from single piece of granite and many historical relics. The founding of the Empire of Axum in the 5th century BC is often taken as the starting point of the Ethiopian civilization. The kingdom maintained trading relations with the Greek-Roman world, India and China during it's most prosperous times.
During the Axumite times Ge-ez, the ancient Ethiopian language, was the official language. Even though Ge-ez is no longer widely used it is still used in the Ethiopian Orthodox churches.
Axum continued to be the crowning place for Royals until Ras Tafari, Emperor Haile Selassie. According to traditional beliefs, later researched by the journalist Graham Hancock in the book ‘The Sign and the Seal’, the Ark of the Covenant resides in the St. Mary of Zion church. Another featured church near Axum is the incredible Debre Damo monastery accessed only by climbing a rope up a steep cliff side.
Harar - The walled city
The old town of Harar came to formal existence since 1520. The town is exceptionally known for the erected encircling walls tightly embracing the town. The 87 mosques existing in Harar has made the city an important place for the Muslim community.
The French Poet Rimbaud also had spent part of his last years in Harar as a trader and his beautiful house is still visited by tourist.
The original Harari houses are also famous for their beautiful paintings and sculptures. Throughout the walled city we discover exciting and colorful markets of various sizes famous for baskets, handicrafts, spices and Khat “a locally used stimulant leaf”. The Hyena man is considered to be the highlight of Harar. In the evening one can witness a man feeding hyenas at only arms length.
GONDAR - The Royal capital of Ethiopia
A town which was once the royal capital of Ethiopia was founded by Emperor Fasilidas in 1635. The city, famous for its many medieval castles, was Ethiopia’s capital until the reign of the would-be reforming Emperor Tewodros II.
During its long years as a capital, the settlement emerged as one of the largest and most populous cities in the realm. The city was a great commercial centre trading with rich lands south of the Blue Nile as well as Sudan to the west and the Red Sea port of Massawa to the North–east.
Gondar is famous for its many medieval castles with unique design and decoration of its churches where the first of the castles was created by King Fasil. The clusters of medieval castles in the city, which are all world heritages sites, were once vigorous and vital centers of religious learning and art.
Further, Gondar is also known for the "Bathing Palace of Emperor Fasiladas", which he had built outside of the then Gondar, in the valley of Qaha. It is still used for the annual Timket celebration (Epiphany celebrations). The Church of Debre Birhan Selassie (Abbey of the Light of Trinity) was built by the grandson of Emperor Fasil and has an overwhelming mural paintings of the famous angel faces.
BAHIR DAR - The home of monastetries
The town which is home of Ethiopia’s largest water body and the source of the Blue Nile Fall is located 565 km from the capital. The city is unique for the thirty seven scattered islands on Lake Tana which are accessed by motor boats and papyrus canoes “Tankuas”.
The city is located at the southern shores of Lake Tana, with the spectacular Blue Nile Falls found, 32 km away from the city. The lake is home to several churches and monasteries dating from the 17th century with beautiful murals, paintings, illustrative manuscripts, historic crowns and other treasures.
On the islands of Dega Estifanos, we find the Dek Stefanos church which has priceless collection of icons, manuscripts and mummified remains of several Ethiopian Emperors.