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Ancient Kingdoms

Visit Ethiopia's Ancient Kingdoms

Introduction

The history of Ethiopia is as long as it is complex and involves some of the greatest ancient kingdoms of Africa. The country is considered by some to be the cradle of humanity, following the discovery of Lucy, the 3.2 million year old skeleton of one of man's oldest ancestors. Many years after Lucy lived came the Land of Punt, followed by an Arabian-influenced civilisation and then the Kingdom of Axum, one of the most powerful kingdoms in the ancient world.

Christianity was born in Ethiopia in 400AD, which signalled the demise of the Kingdom of Aksum. By the beginning 12th century the Zagwe Dynasty had taken hold, leaving behind the incredible rock-hewn churches of Lalibela but strangely, little else. Different reigns, wars and kingdoms followed until the rise and fall of Gondar, between 1636 and 1755. With such an interesting history, a tailor made tour around some of Ethiopia's ruined ancient civilisations is a must-do for any Ethiopian holiday.

Where to go in Ancient Kingdoms

Lalibela

Lalibela is the site of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and if Gondar is ‘Africa's Camelot', then Lalibela is ‘Africa's Petra'. There are eleven medieval churches in all, carved from the bedrock during the Zagwe Dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Gondar

Gondar is known as ‘Africa's Camelot', thanks to the numerous classical stone castles and palaces found around its centre. Emperor Fasiladas made Gondar his capital in 1636 and it grew into a fabulous town of great riches.

Axum

Axum was at the centre of the Kingdom of Axum, between the 4th century BC and the 7th century AD. The modest city that stands today, just south of the border with Eritrea, was once the most powerful city in one of Africa's most powerful ancient kingdoms.

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