Aksum, Gheralta, Mariam Wukro and Mekelle 1

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Duration – 4 nights and 4 days

Transportation – Drive and Flight

Accommodation – 1*, 2* and 3* hotels and best lodge available

Tour Code: ATT-CH-008

 

Trip Highlight

This is a Four days Cultural and Historic Tigrai tour with-in Tigrai which passes through the scenic highlands of Tigrai, visiting the historic, archaeological, political, cultural and religious destinations of Tigrai . The trip covers mainly the following attraction sites:

  • Mekelle, the political, Socio-Economic, religious and event center of Tigrai
  • Gheralta Range, known for the Rock-Hewn Churches and breathtaking landscape
  • Yeha, the pre-Axumite palace known for its oldest Pre-Christian temple in the Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Axum, an ancient historic and archaeological site with steles, old palaces, tombs and the Ark of the Covenant and the Zion church.
  • Adwa Mountains, called the Pride of Africa, a historic landmark where the Battle of Adwa took place with the subsequent Ethiopian victory over the Italian aggressors.
  • Mariam Wukro, one of the best church in Tigria if not in Ethiopia with impressive architecture.
  • Adi Akawih, Pre-Axumite archaeological site recently discovered around Wukro.

 

 

DAY 1 – AXUM CITY TOUR

After an early morning breakfast, check in to the airport for your flight to Axum.After arrival in Axum, check in to your hotel and visit Axum, Recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980, Axum is a testament to the rich and glorious past of the mighty Kingdom of Axum (2nd C. BC-700 A.D.). This morning the visit will start with the famous Stelae field with its Axumite stelae in various sizes and shapes. The archaeological museum is nearby and it offers an opportunity to bring context to relics on view today.

 

In the afternoon, you will visit the Kaleb and Gebremeskel tombs, dating to the 6th century A.D and on the way to town, the Ezana inscription (Ethiopia’s Rosetta stone) is worth visiting.  Tradition has it that the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ethiopia in the 10th century BC by Menelik I and later Ethiopian kings and emperors would proclaim their legitimacy to rule by their lineage to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.  Through the day we will discuss the development of Christianity in Ethiopia and its relation to the Ark, and the story of Queen of Sheba too.

 

DAY 2 – DRIVE GHERALTA VIA MARIAM WUKRO

This morning after breakfast, we drive to Hawzein through dramatic highland landscapes of Adwa where the Battle of Adwa (1896) took place which is a land mark to the Black World. Later, visit Aba Gerima Monastery: This is an active monastery situated in the womb of one of the Adwa Mountains. It was established in the sixth century and has about 150 monks and valuable religious treasures. Particularly there is a manuscript kept in the small church treasury museum which is believed to be the oldest one in the country if not in Africa and even one of the oldest in world. The monastery is  contemporary to Debre Damo. Nearby there is a tomb of the famous African General, Ras Alula Aba Nega which worth a visit. En route, you can stop for Ethiopian coffee ceremony at farmer’s house and is one of the most enjoyable events you can attend at an Ethiopia. The coffee is taken through its full life cycle of preparation in front of you in a ceremonial manner. Coffee is called ‘Bunna’ (boo-na) by the Ethiopians.

Later after a lunch break at Edaga Arbi, visit the rock church of Mariam Wurko.  The church is not fully separated from the rock face, and only the southern façade is visible from the exterior. The interior has richly decorated walls and ceilings. There are three doors, two of them leading into nave and the third leading to the priests’ chamber, called Kine Mahlet. This chamber is highly decorated with stone bas-reliefs and relatively recent paintings. The western and southern parts of the ceiling have large, carved Greek crosses, and the northern and the central part of ceiling have geometrically perfect domes. The ceiling is supported on two free-standing pillars. The Interior of Mariam Wukro Four free–standing pillars with pilaster capitals on top, plus another 10 wall-pillars support the ceiling. On the western side of the holy of holies, one can see a window–like opening in Aksumite style, very much reminiscent of the windows of the Lalibela churches. It is witnesses by many scholars as “without doubt a great example of Tigrai architecture”

 

DAY 3 – DRIVE WUKRO

After a morning breakfast, drive to visit Debre Tsion. It is about 40 minutes’ walk from the escarpment. It is a monastic cliff church carved in to a rusty sandstone face. It has an impressive and unusually symbolic exterior. The interior of the church is lovely decorated. The back walls of the holy of holies, the domes and wall panels are abundantly decorated with fine painting of saints and Apostles. Especially the dome is beautifully adorned with patterns. Because of the simplicity of the lines and colors, the paintings are estimated to be of the 15th century although the church officials prefer to date it, in the 14th century. A 15th century unique circular ceremonial fan (one meter in diameter) with wooden framework makes the visit to this church special. Each of its 34 panels is finely painted with figures of Apostles. Its walls are decorated with many geometrical designs and carvings in relief depicting Angels and Saints. It is indeed a manifestation of the great stone workmanship that was common in the whole of Tigrai both at that time and before.

Later, drive to the direction of Wukro and en route visit Abreha we Atsbeha. This church was believed to be built in the 4th century by two royal brothers, Abreha Atsbeha, who were responsible for converting Axumite Empire to Christianity. The church is large and cruciform in shape, with interesting architectural features such as cruciform pillars and stepped capitals. There are also well preserved 17th century paintings depicting saints and biblical scenes. The church contains many valuable masterpieces including a beautifully decorated prayer cross, said to have belonged to Frumentius, the first Bishop of Ethiopia, whose ecclesiastical name was Abba Selama, meaning the father of peace.

DAY 4 – DRIVE MEKELLE

After a morning breakfast, visit the newly well established archaeological museum of Wukro. This museum has interesting collections of Pre-Axumite Sabean artifacts from Adi Akawih and other sites. Most of the collections. Interestingly, you will visit the newly excavated pre-Axumite site of Adi Akawih. The site is situated near the town of Wukro. This site has ancient objects such as a statute of seated women   and at its base is an altar with Sabean inscription and a partially inscribed podium. According to a translation by Prof. Nobert Nebes, the inscriptions mention the ancient Sabean-Ethiopian kingdom of D’m’t, the god Almoqah, and for the first time the well-known pre-Axumite temple, ‘Yeha’. On the basis of these same inscriptions, the objects are dated to 7th -6th century B.C. The Almoqah temple of Yeha is much larger than the Almoqah temple of Adi Akaweh, but a good comparable one is the Almoqah temple in Melazo near Axum.

 

Later, drive to Mekella and after a lunch break take a city tour of Mekelle.  You can visit the old Majestic palace of Yohannes IV. It is Mekelle’s oldest royal house and built during the emperor’s reign (1872-1889). The palace, situated behind a double rounded wall compound, is actually two buildings facing each other. The museum has among its collection the incredible throne of the emperor from 1874, the royal bed, ceremonial dress, rifles and many other valuable items of Ethiopian heritage. The modern Martyrs monument of Hawelti/where you will see the 17 years of bloody struggle against Military regime/ and if time allows you can visit the open Market of Adihaki and the up sided building market of Edga Soni known as Defe’o where tourists will get the experience which was built for memorial of the First Woyane Rebellion, thousand of them were killed by the British airplane bombardment with order of Emperor Hailesilassie I.