Mayo Ethiopia Tours

Mayo Ethiopia Tours

Addis Ababa

The name of the city, in Amharic, means "new flower". Founded in 1886 by Menelik II, it is located at 2,500 m (8202 ft) above sea level in one of the highest parts of the Entoto Mountain chain (3,000 m/9842 ft above sea level). Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide avenues of jacaranda trees, interesting museums and one of the largest open-air markets in Africa, known as the "Mercato".

Lake Tana is a wonderful place to visit and it is difficult not be touched by this unusual body of water. Unlike other big lakes in Ethiopia it is in the highlands, not the Rift Valley. The whole mood of this huge natural reservoir is different – even the birds. The lake also holds a special place in the hearts of Ethiopian Christians, as a last bastion of their faith in times of invasion and occupation. When Axum was taken by Muslim forces in the 16th century, it is said that the Ark of the Covenant was brought to a Lake Tana monastery for safekeeping.

Gondar was the former capital city of the Ethiopian Empire, and was founded in 1635 by King Fasilidas. It remained influential for nearly 250 years until the seat of power moved further south. Several castles – seemingly more European than African – were built during this period. Gonder as an old town has other treasures too.
The most famous site, the Fasil Ghebbi or Royal Enclosure. This royal estate is characterized by its massive stone ramparts and a fascinating, dynastic series of castles, built one after the other by Ethiopian Kings.

Debre Berhan Selassie (Light of the Trinity), which is located at the summit of a hill and surrounded by fortified walls. The interior is decorated with beautiful frescos.

Axum – is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The legends narrated in the Kebre Nagast (Book of Kings) recount how the city of Axum as early as the 10th century B.C was already the city in which the Queen of Sheba resided. It is recounted that the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant to Axum and it remains there to this day, preserved in a sanctuary. Famous long before the time of Christ, Axum was the capital of the long Axumite reign, one of the oldest African empires and represented a crucial connecting-point between Africa and Asia for almost a thousand years.

The main attraction of Axum is the stelae: granite monoliths dating from pre-Christian times and decorated with symbolic engravings. The stelae are elaborately carved and the erection of these massive pillars remains a mystery. The largest of these stelae (33m) collapsed centuries ago but great national pride is invested in the ‘seventh’ stele which was plundered by Mussolini during the Italian occupation; it has recently been returned to Axum and re-erected on its original place.

Lalibela is located at an altitude of 2,600 meters above sea level. The city contains 11 monolithic churches that were built in the twelfth century and are carved out of the pink granite rock. They have been classified as one of the wonders of the world. Each church has a unique architectural style; all are superbly carved and most of them are decorated with well-preserved paintings. The entire city may be described as a sculpture dedicated to the glory of God. The day is spent visiting the first and the second groups of churches and the city itself.

The city contains 11 monolithic churches that were built in the 12th century and are carved out of the pink granite rock; they have been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each church (Bet) has a unique architectural style; all are superbly carved and most of them are decorated with well-preserved paintings. The entire city may be described as a sculpture dedicated to the glory of God.

The Lalibela churches are grouped in to three divided by River Jordan. The first group of churches, known as the Northern Group of Churches. Bet Medihanialem is the largest, supported by 72 pillars and houses the 7kg (15 lbs) gold Lalibela Cross. You go through a tunnel from Bet Medihanialem to Bet Mariam, in which there is a pillar that it is said that Jesus Christ leaned against when he appeared in a vision to King Lalibela. Bet Mariam also contains fabulous carvings of various birds and animals. You can also visit Bet Danaghel; a chapel built in honor of martyred nuns. Bet Golgotha and Bet Mikael are twin churches and many believe that a visit to Bet Golgotha alone can guarantee your place in heaven! The twin churches also contain many important religious items and some of the best examples of early religious art in the country.

The Second group (Eastern Rock Churches) Bet Amanuel is one of the most beautifully carved churches in Ethiopia in the Aksumite style. Bet Merkorios has a wonderful painting of The Three Wise Men, which dates back to the 15th century A.D. We also stop to see Bet Abba Libonose and Bet Gebrieal-Reafael, which might have once been the home of the royal family before becoming a church.

The last church you can visit is Bet Giyorgis, one of the more recent churches and best preserved.

Yemrehane Kirstos Church, built under a natural cave. The Church which is located some 50 km from the town at the foot base of mount Abune Yosef, is different from the other rock churches in Lalibela because it was built in a natural cave instead of being carved out of the bedrock.

The fortified historical town of Harer is located in southeastern Ethiopia at about 526km far from Addis Ababa. According to traditions, the city had its name by Shaik Abadir, a man who is said to come from Arabia in the 10th century. Harer came in to formal existence in 1520 when a local Amir Abu Baker Mohammed shifted his capital from Dakar (an old nearby settlement) to the present town. Harer was also the homeland of Ahmed Gragn (Imam of the Adals) and it became the capital of the Harari Kingdom from 1520-1568. From the late 16th century to the 19th century, the town was also noted as a centre of trade and Islamic learning. In the 17th century, Harer became an independent emirate until Egyptians occupied it for a decade from 1875 to 1885. Eventually, Menelik II incorporated it into the Great Ethiopian Empire in 1887.

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