Duration – 5 nights and 5 days
Transport – air and surface
Accommodation – 2* or 3* or 4* hotel or good accommodation
Tour Code: ATT-CH-0013
This is a five 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-Aksumite palace known for its oldest Pre-Christian temple in the Sub-Saharan Africa
- Axum, an ancient historic and archaeological site with steles, tombs and churches
- 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.
- Tembein, housed the hidden churches inside the mountains
DAY 1 – AXUM CITY TOUR
After an morning breakfast, 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 TEMBEIN
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, visit Gabriel wukien: Is found 17km north west of Abyi-Addi and some across the field and further 10-min ascent of the mountain side .It is architecturally important church which is free, on all sides, from the mother rock. Its pillars and the beams connecting them are beautiful. According to Ruth Plant, the author of The Architecture of Tigrai, “The church is undoubtedly the most remarkable church that I saw in Tembien”.
DAY 3 – DRIVE GHERALTA
After a morning breakfast, drive to the direction of Hawzein and en route visit Maryam Hibito: The Rock church of Maryam Hibito/Literally the hidden Mary/ is really hidden in a foot hill and is surrounded by old green trees. It can be reached after 34 km from the town Abyi-Addi .The church is also surrounded by Mountains in an attractive setting and has a beautiful exterior.
Later, visit Abune Gebre Michael. The church is situated south of Abune Yamata (Guh), about 15 km from Megab. Considered one of the best and finest churches in Gheralta, this church’s cruciform plan is hewn beautifully into a dome like rock. Its features good frescoes and carefully carved columns, pillars, cupolas and arches. The interior part of the church is abundantly decorated with marvelous paintings and murals are worth visiting.
DAY 4 – DRIVE WUKRO
After having an early breakfast drive to Mariam korkor which is said to be one of the biggest and most complex rock-hewn churches of Tigray situated in the village called Megab which can be reached either via Degum 10km before Megab or via the historic town of Hawzien 8km before Megab. About 1 and ½ hours walk and climb from the village it brings you to the white washed faced of a built structure church facing to the West. The interior part of this church is decorated with magnificent paintings such as paintings depicting Archangel Ruphael which is reported by Gerster to be “similar to the painting in the cathedral church of Faras”. And another painting on the Western wall shows the Virgin Mery with a circle around her abdomen which according Ivy Pearce indicates the development of Christ in Utero and such a theme was comment one in 17th century Byzantine art.
Daniel Korkor a smaller rock church with only 2 rooms which its ceiling of the domed anteroom is decorated with primitive paintings is a minutes’ walk apart.
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 5- 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.