Ethiopia is a country of great antiquity with a history and tradition dating back more than 3,000 years. The traveler on Historic Route of Ethiopia makes a journey through time transported by mysterious and extraordinary monuments, rock churches and edifices built long centuries ago. The Historic Route is truly where a shadow of the past still waves.

Ethiopia is like no other place in Africa. It is like a fabled hidden empire, offering a superior history of intriguing wealth with awe-inspiring and unrivaled religions, traditions and ancient heritages. The pre-Christian temple at Yeha is Sub Saharan Africa’s oldest building, constructed in the 5th BC. We discover the glory and riches of the Axumite Kingdom at the ancient city of Axum, which can be still pictured as we view the colossal rock stelae, the stone work of royal tombs and the legendary bath of the Queen of Sheba. The 16th century Church of St. Mary of Zion stands on the ruins of an earlier 4th century church and is the country’s oldest and holiest Christian shrine. Within its sanctuary is said to rest the original Ark of the Covenant, admittedly one of the most precious relics of Judeo-Christian tradition. Another great day of the trip begins when start viewing Ethiopia’s famous 12th century churches carved out of solid rock, which are attributed to King Lalibela. Some of the churches are monolithic, cut into volcanic rock, some are quarried enlargements of natural caves, and others are connected by a maze of underground tunnels. Ethiopia’s medieval capital for over 200 years and founded by Emperor Fassilides in 17th century, Gondar is the city of royal castles and fortress-like battlements. Referred as the jewels of Ethiopia, Lake Tana is dotted by numerous island monasteries of high religious significance. In the Middle Ages, churches sought refuge on these islands of Lake Tana and due in part to the difficult access these churches are to this day rich in the best of Ethiopia’s Religious paintings, illuminated manuscripts and other treasures.


Axum, the birth place of Ethiopia’s civilization, is a fascinating ancient highland city in the northwest Tigray region. It was the capital of the Queen of Sheba in the 10th century BC, and by the first century AD was capital of the far-reaching kingdom of the Axumite. It is one of Africa’s most spectacular archaeological sites. The ruins of the site spread over a large area and are composed of tall, obelisk-like stelae of imposing height, an enormous table of stone, vestiges of columns and royal tombs inscribed with Axumite legends and traditions. The giant monolithic stales are magnificently carved; and it is mystical and strikingly mysterious as to how these colossal granite stales were transported, carved and erected. The largest though fallen and broken, is more than 33meters which makes it the tallest stale ever erected in the whole world. The first most comprehensive archaeological studies on Axum’s spectacular ancient monuments took place in 1906 by a German team officially designated as the Deutsche Axum Expedition. Its importance is recognized by UNESCO which has declared it a World Heritage Site in 1980.


Nestled comfortably in the northern highlands of Lasta are the extraordinary rock- hewn churches of Lalibela, which are mystically carved out of s olid volcanic rocks. Power shifted from the Axumite Empire to the Zagwe Dynasty who ruled Ethiopia from Lasta towards the end of the 12th century AD. Its most important ruler was King Lalibela (1181 – 1221AD), renowned for the rock-hewn churches, which he built at the capital Roha in the 13th Century. The capital Roha was later changed to bear his name, Lalibela.
There are no more than 100 churches in the Lasta region of Lalibela some hidden in enormous caves, but it is exceptional to find eleven churches of such master craftsmanship in one locale. These brilliant feats of engineering and architecture are often referred to us the Eighth Wonder of the World.

Hewn directly out of the solid red volcanic rock on which they stand, the Lalibela churches are connected by a network of tunnels and narrow passageways with offsets, grottos and galleries – a though-provoking peaceful and silent subterranean world, except the faint echoes of distant footfalls of priests and deacons that offer around their timeless prayers.


The medieval city of Gondar was founded by Emperor Fasilides in 1636. This fortress-city of the Royal Enclosure (Fasil Ghebbi) was Ethiopia’s capital for over 200 years until the reign of the would-be reforming Emperor Tewodros II. During Gondar’s long years as a capital, the settlement emerged as one of the largest and most populous cities in the realm. It was a great commercial center trading much further in all directions. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the fortress-city of Fasil Ghebbi was the residence of the Ethiopian Emperor Fasilides and his successors. Surrounded by a 900-m-long wall, the city contains palaces, churches, monasteries and unique public and private buildings marked by Hindu and Arab influences, subsequently transformed by the Baroque style brought to Gondar by the Jesuit missionaries. By the late 1640, Emperor Fasilides had built a great castle here, which stands today in a grassy compound surrounded by other fortresses of later construction. With its huge towers and looming battlemented walls, it seems like a piece of medieval Europe transposed to Ethiopia. In addition to this castle, Fasiladas is said to have been responsible for the building of a number of other structures.


The beautiful town of Bahir Dar rose to prominence in the 16th century and is now the center for commerce and government for the Amhara Region. Situated at the Southern shores of Lake Tana, the town is truly fascinating with its wide palm-lined avenues and tropical vegetations.

Covering more than 3,600, Lake Tana is Ethiopia’s largest lake, known to the ancient Greeks as Pseboa. The fabled source of the Nile, this majestic and mysterious Lake Tana is dotted with more than 30 islands-many of them home to ancient monasteries and churches. Plunging more than 2,00o meters in its 800 km course from Ethiopia to the plains of the Sudan, the Blue Nile begins its journey with a thundering 50-meter cascade over Tisssisat Falls, 30 km downstream from the point where it leaves Lake Tana. At the end of his Expedition to the source of the Nile, the 18th century Scottish traveler James Bruce also concludes that the source of the Nile is Lake Tana as he witnesses the Blue Nile River flowing from the lake. A boat excursion on Lake Tana also allows you to witness as the river leaves the lake at the southeastern shore.