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“Super Stelae!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Ruins of Aksum

The Ruins of Aksum
Aksum, Ethiopia
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Ranked #1 of 3 attractions in Aksum
Type: Ancient Ruins
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Attraction Details
Owner description: The remains of once powerful royal capital contain impressive tombs and stelae.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
44 attraction reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
“Super Stelae!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2013

Think the Trip Advisor title is misnomer. This is a UNESCO heritage site. Not of ruins but of superbly carved Stelae. Breath taking! Standing tall and strong! The stelae carvers improved their skills over time. The first ones are small and rough. The next bunch is polished. Then they started carving them. First on 3 sides. Then on 4 sides! It is believe the broken stele came crashing down because it's base was too short, thereby ending the stele building era. The museum is very much worth a visit. A very good DVD about Tigray cultural places is also on show.

Visited November 2013
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65 reviews from our community

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English first
Top Contributor
124 reviews 124 reviews
30 attraction reviews
Reviews in 68 cities Reviews in 68 cities
57 helpful votes 57 helpful votes
“Very manageable site with several carved stelae and a few underground tomb chambers”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2013

We expected Aksum's sites to be less impressive than those in, for example, Gonder and certainly than Lalibela's rock hewn churches. We were pleasantly surprised in that the upright stelae, while few and lacking any writen account, are located on a grassy slope that makes for nice pictures. Below are a few corridors off which burial chambers of modest size open. Unfortunately, the archaology -- what is known -- is very lacking so the experience is somewhat like that of visiting other ancient sites where little is known that would put it into an historical context. We hired a guide, who sat us down in the shade of a tree next to the huge, fallen stela, and told us all he knew (which was about what I had in my copy of guidebook pages). If we had to do it over again, we would pass on the guide as he took too long to tell us too little -- and then that which we had already read in more succinct form. The nearby museum was touted by our guidebook, and is worth a look but don't expect to know a lot more after seeing it. Again, there isn't much known and that truly limits the level of interest one can muster for this site.

Visited October 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Top Contributor
221 reviews 221 reviews
37 attraction reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
128 helpful votes 128 helpful votes
“Amazing ruins - and how not to get ripped off trying to explore them.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2013

The Axumite ruins are worth a trip to the far north of Ethiopia by all means. Exploring them can be inexpensive if you are traveling individually. Tour groups usually have the all-inclusive deal where the rip off has already been included at the time of booking. Here is what I would recommend if you are traveling individually:

Upon arrival the larger hotels try to talk you into booking the hotel mini bus for about US$ 100 a day and that does not even include the guide. If you are an experienced and ruthless bargainer you may manage to get the van for 50$. However, that's still way too much and here is what you do:

1. Ignore the overpriced hotel offers and related tricks (ruin sites faraway from each other, only accessible by car/van, other transport not available, all statements are untrue).
2. Approach a Tuktuk (moto rikshaw) on the street and bargain for a one-day hire. Depending on your skills this should cost you 10-20 $ a day (200-400 Birr). I got one for 250 since I liked the driver. There are plenty so keep on walking if you can't reach an agreement. There is a high likelihood that the tuktuk will follow you and the price will drop every 10 meters for another 20 Birr.
3. Drive then to the main site where the ticket office is located. There you get the ticket for all sites for 2-3 $ per person as well as an official, good English speaking and well trained guide for 12 $ a day (250 birr). He will hop on and guide you for the rest of the day and also make sure that the tuktuk driver doesn't skip some ruins "by accident".
4. Ignore the unofficial guides since they often haven't got a clue what they are talking about.

So for 25 to max 35$ you are set for the day.

Visited November 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Penn Valley, California
Top Contributor
50 reviews 50 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
“A visit to Aksum (Axum) is not to be missed!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2013

The stelae field is ancient and fascinating and reminds us in many ways of the ancient ruines of Egypt. Be sure to include a visit to the Queen of Sheba's pool (Mai Shum)- (read about her in the Old Testament!) as well as the Axum Museum and nearby tombs of the nobles. Highly recommended as well is Maryam Tsion Church and complex, a beautiful church as well as the most sacred of Orthodox Ethiopian Christianity, the sanctuary of the ark of the Covenant, which is only seen by the monk who lives out his life inside. Stay at the Yeha Hotel...beautiful grounds and view, but be sure to check the room first and make sure you have hot water for your shower!

Visited September 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Top Contributor
208 reviews 208 reviews
111 attraction reviews
Reviews in 107 cities Reviews in 107 cities
172 helpful votes 172 helpful votes
“Nice to look at but badly presented”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 5, 2013

The stellae are just that. Stones sticking up into the sky with not much information otherwise. The temples,palaces are reconstructed removing some of the mystique. However, the stone with the 3 languages is impressive and may even equal the Rosetta stone as it is complete with Sabean, Ger and Greek. Also, the tombs further up the road are well worth the visit.

Overall though for such a historic place felt a little let down on presentation.

Visited October 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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