Historic and Cultural Attractions

Ethiopia has its own script, notational system and calendar. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the oldest in Africa – Christianity was made the state religion in the Axumite Empire in 330 AD, before Rome. Muslim communities were established in Ethiopia before the triumph of Islam in its birth place, the Arabian Peninsula. Ethiopia’s wealth of historic sites and an identity is defined by its own history and diverse cultures.

The best known historic sites:-

  • Axum
  • Lalibela
  • Gondar
  • Bahir Dar

The easiest and fastest way to get around is by air, by Ethiopian Airlines’ domestic flights, although that means missing out on some stunning scenery, and other interesting though less well known sites. The Historic Route can be done by road, or by a combination of road and air travel. If it is done by road, others sites and activities can easily be added, such as the markets of Senbete and Bati, where the lowlanders and highlanders meet for trade, the rock hewn churches of Tigray, and some days walking in the Simien Mountains. Ideally, two days in each place should be allowed for Axum, Lalibela, Gondar and Bahir Dar. Two weeks plus should be allowed for doing the Historic Route by road.

Whether on the Historic Route or elsewhere, visitors can experience and participate in ancient religious festivals, such as (the finding of the true cross), Mariam Tsion (the Zion Festive) and the special feast days Genna (Christmas)Timket (Epiphany), Fasika (Easter) and Meskal of individual churches. It is also possible to visit the church schools on the historic routes especially at Gondar and Bahir Dar.

Other interesting historic sites, on the Historic Route and elsewhere in Ethiopia: the Church of Tigray’s rock hewn churches, the monastery of Debre Libanos; the neolithic site at Melka Kunture, near Addis Ababa; the stellae fields at Tiya (near Addis Ababa), Dire Dawa, The Muslim city of Harer with its 99 mosques, the old walled city and particular architectural style ranks with the main sites on the Historic Route &Hadar – the site where “Lucy” and other hominid species were discovered in the Afar Region