Axum - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Axum


Axum is a city in far northern Ethiopia that is believed by Ethiopian Christians to be home to the Ark of the Covenant, housed in the 16th century Church of St Mary of Zion. The city was once the centre of a mighty empire, although from the 10th century it declined into insignificance leaving behind a dusty, lugubrious town largely ignorant of its glorious past. Axum's other major attraction is possibly more remarkable than its putative Ark: its stone obelisks (stellae), weighing up to 500 tonnes, and dating from around 300AD. In 2008 one such obelisk was returned to Ethiopia with great fanfare after having been looted by Italy in the early 20th century.

Information & Facts

Amharic is the official language, although over 80 local languages are also spoken. English and Arabic are widely spoken as well as some French and Italian.

The official currency is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB), which is divided into 100 cents. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks and authorised hotels. Credit cards have limited usage outside of Addis Ababa, and even in the capital they are only accepted by major establishments. Visitors should carry a supply of travellers cheques or hard currency with them, preferably in US dollars. ATMs are sparse, but banks are usually open every day except Sundays from 8am to 11am and 1pm till 4pm.

Local time is GMT +3.
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