· The North Route of Ethiopia
One of Ethiopia’s primary attractions is its abundance of historical sites, unique in sub-Saharan Africa. The path to Ethiopia’s famous and fascinating historic sites takes you through magnificent scenery to places with names, which could be out of a fairy tale.
· Axum and Surroundings (2100m asl)
Axum is the holy city of Ethiopia and the resting place of the Arc of the covenant, reached its height between the 1st & 10th C.A.D. It was a kingdom of great wealth and sophistication, controlling the caravan routes from the hinterland of Africa trading with ivory and slaves.
Rock-hewn churches of Tigray, over 125 rock-hewn churches are recorded in Tigray alone and these churches dated from 4th – 15th century, most of them are scattered in Gheralta mountain chain such as: Mariam Korkir, Abune Yemata, Abreha we Atsbeha, Ghiorghis Maykedo and others….
· Rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
The ancient Ethiopian empire in the north came to an abrupt end, when a ferocious woman warrior named Queen Judith, led her tribes up from the Semien Mountains and destroyed Axum, the capital. After a power vacuum of nearly a century, the Zagwe dynasty came to power in the eleventh century. there are many churches in the Lasta Region of Lalibela alone. some hidden in enormous caves, while 11 of this master Artisan-ship found in Lalibela, previously known as Roha.
These eleven churches are brilliant feats of engineering and architecture and often referred to as the “Eighth wonder of the world". The Lalibela churches are truly amazing because of two major features. The first one is the fact that these towering edifices hewn out of the solid, red volcanic tuff on which they stand. In consequence, they seem to be of superhuman creation – in scale, in workmanship, and an architectural concept. The destruction of the churches by Queen Judith may have warned the builders to hide these churches from future prying eyes and plundering hands of hostile interlopers. Thus, when one approaches these churches from the road below, they remain little more than invisible against a horizon dominated by the 4,200-metre peak of Mount Abuna Yosef. Even close-up, they seem wholly unremarkable.
Lalibela churches silence the most cynical pedants. Close examination is required to appreciate the full extent of the achievement because, like medieval mysteries, much effort has been made to cloak their nature.’ When an inquisitive mind compares the shabbiness of the present-day Lalibela town with the magnificence of the rock-hewn churches, one forced to wonder why the extraordinary artisan-ship displayed in the building of the churches, did not ‘rub off’ even a little to the other local residences of the nobles. Because of this, some think that the builders of the rock churches actually lived somewhere else, but selected that spot because of its location.
· Gonder (2200 m altitude)
180 km from Bahir Dar, on the northern shore of Lake Tana. Gonder is famous for its spectacular castles, also known as Camelot of Africa; the city is founded by Emperor Fasil Ladas in 17th century with the construction of his first castle and the developing village.
During the following decades, Gonder became the capital of Ethiopia until the middle of 19the century. The city was an important hub between caravan routes of north and south of the country.
· Bahir Dar (1850m asl)
Bahir Dar is a scenic location on the southern shore of Lake Tana at an altitude of 1830, which is the capital of Amhara people.
Lake Tana hosts 37 islands which are 30 are churches and monasteries such as Ura Kidane Mehiret at Zeghe Peninsula, Naraga Selassie, Dega Estifanos, Tana Kirkos and others……
· Around Dessie and Debre Birhane:
The 13th century monastery of Hayik Estifanos, Gishen Mariam church: if you follow the winding road west of Dessie, crossing the Bisholo Riber, you will come to one of the most sacred churches in which half of the true cross on which Jesus was crucified is found, according to Ethiopian Orthodox church.
The other attraction sites on the historic route are: the famous tunnel of Tarma Ber, Kombolcha, and Ankober: the former capital of Emperor Menelik II.