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  ETHIOPIAN HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS

AXUM

The northern Ethiopia ancient city of Axum, regarded as the cradle of Ethiopian culture and Christianity, is the country's oldest extant urban settlement. From around 200 BC to 700 AD, even Axum was the seat of an empire that extended across the Red Sea to Arabia, traded with India and China, had its own alphabet, constructed great engineering works and which, in the 4th century, was one of the four great powers of the world.

After its conversion to Christianity, early in the fourth century, Axum also emerged as an important religious centre, site of the country's most important and revered Church of St Mary of Zion, which, according to Ethiopian tradition, is the repository of the biblical Ark of the Covenant.

Once the capital and a major religious center, it remains the site of quite startling antiquities; the 2000 years old mysterious monolithic stelae, hewn from single pieces of solid granite and carved to resemble multi-story houses, ever worked on by humanity anywhere in the world; subterranean stone tombs high enough to walk in; several palaces including ruins of the legendary Queen of Sheba's palace and bath; special gold-silver-and-bronze currencies; multilingual tablets dating from the time of Christ – and much more besides.

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