Axum (Ethiopia): what to see, Ark of the Covenant, Stele


Itinerary including the main monuments and places of interest to see in Axum, the ancient city of Ethiopia, including the Ark of the Covenant and Stele.

Tourist information

City of northern Ethiopia, Axum is located in the Tigré, about 2100 meters above sea level at the foot of the Adua mountains.

In the ancient capital of the Axumite kingdom, from 400 BC, an important civilization flourished which for almost 10 centuries dominated trade between Africa and Asia.

Its rich archaeological heritage includes evidence dating back to between the first and thirteenth century, including monolithic obelisks, gigantic steles, royal tombs and ruins of ancient castles, custodians of an ancient world that has not yet been fully revealed today.

The story tells us that Saba, queen of Axum, having heard of Solomon's wisdom, went to Jerusalem and, having known him, was very fascinated by it.

Bayna-Lehkem was born from the union between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, known as the son of the Wise, who became Emperor with the name of Menyelek I or Menelik, giving rise to the lineage of the rulers of Ethiopia.

Ark of the Covenant

After going to Jerusalem, Menelik returned to Axum with the Ark of the Covenant which, according to the Ethiopian tradition, is kept in the church of Santa Maria di Zion.

It is an acacia wood case, completely covered in gold, externally and internally, containing the stone tables with the ten commandments, kept by a priest and carried in procession once a year wrapped in a blanket, because at nobody is allowed to see it.


Among the rich archaeological heritage of Axum is the Stele, an basaltic stone obelisk, transferred to Rome in 1937 by the Italians as spoils of war, but returned in 2005 to the Ethiopian people, with subsequent repositioning in 2008 in its homeland.

Axum is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Aksum: Beyond History and The Ark of the Covenant (August 2021)

Tags: Ethiopia