Across town you will see several depictions of the military commander of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (1975-1991). During the rule of the Communist DERG the Tigray people were brutally repressed, imprisoned and murdered in great numbers. They also had famine inflicted upon them for daring to defend themselves. In 1991 the TPL and their Eritrean associates overthrew the Derg and pave the way to today’s democratic Ethiopia. Many of the tanks destroyed in the area are still there and visible on the ride in from the airport.
Tickets - To explore all archaeological sites in and around Aksum you need to buy a ticket for 50 Birr (50 % student discount) in the Tourist Office next to the post office. These tickets are valid for your entire stay, except the Tsion Maryam Church Complex. At the office official tour guides can be arranged. Basically they are included in the ticket and will not cost you anything except a tip, which should be negotiated before setting off.
Torch - bring a torch. There is no light in the tombs or in the basements of some of the sites.
Postcards – There are postcards available in most of the curio shops. Sometimes the same postcards can be bought in the post office for only half the price. The lady at the counter is very friendly and helpful! A post card to Europe is 2 Birr.
Phonecosts – A three minutes call to Europe is 37 Birr.
Taxi to the Airport – will cost you 10 Birr per person
Leaving Aksum early in the morning in the direction of Adwa, Debre Damos and Adrigat, we drove on a good road in a marvellous landscape.
Fondest memory: We had a stop to have a good and relaxed look at the fantastic jagged profile of the Adwa mountains in the early morning mist.
Except the market with all their stalls and trading people, I like also to have a look how the local people transport the goods they will sell or have bought.
I can sit somewhere in a corner of the market for quite a long time, looking at what happens around me. I saw a lot of donkeys and people bearing their trade on their head, but ......
Fondest memory: the most fascinating for me are always the many camels I saw in North Ethiopia, like those two transporting wood at the market of Aksum.
Walking in the centre of Aksum, but also of other Ethiopian and African towns, I enjoy to look at the many streetstalls, small shops and streetvendors. And there are so many !!
Streetstalls are always a good place to buy your fruits and vegetables.
Fondest memory: In Aksum I saw this nice little stall not far from the market.
A pity, I didn't need any of the articles they were selling.
In the centre of Aksum you can find the Ezana Garden. It's a lovely green place to spend some time during the hottest time of the day. In the garden are some arbours, where you can sit in the shade and order a drink.
In the garden stands also the famous stone of king Ezana (4th century). The inscriptions on this stone record the titles and victories of the king and are written in three ancient scripts (Greek, Sabaean and Ge'ez).
Fondest memory: Drinking a delicious avocado-papaya juice with sugar and lemon (4 birr) in one of the arbours.
Looking at a fantastic bridal couple, visiting the garden for taking pictures and making a video. This modern-looking couple and their guests had a lot of fun, singing and dancing accompanied by a traditional music and drumming group, just in front of us. The beautiful Ethiopian bride came from Dallas (USA).
One block south of the east-west mainroad and one block west of the bridge you can find the local market of Aksum.
The market is not very large, but it's nice to have a look and feel the local atmosphere.
At the market you can find herbs & spices, vegetables, chickens, tef for making the local injera, clothes, plastics and also some old traditional objects.
It was a relaxed place and the people at the market were friendly and helpful.
Allthough my fellow-traveller lost her purse at a crowded place, while she was standing not far from me. So you have to be careful - always and everywhere- and watch out for pickpockets.
Aksum was allready known to the ancient Greeks and Romans and also mentioned by European travellers in the 16th to 18th century, but remained almost unknown till the end of the 19th century.
First in the 20th century the first archaeologists from Germany started the excavations, but 98% of the old Aksum still remains unexcavated.
When you walk around in this rural town, it's hardly to imagine, that Aksum was ever a site of the great Aksumite civilisation.
You have to do some effort to discover the ancient sites. The help of a local guide can be useful.
Except visiting these sites, it's also nice to walk around in this town and experience the daily life. Downtown there are some tarred roads, shops, banks, hotels and restaurants, but you can find also many unpaved roads with a very rural atmosphere.
Favorite thing: I found this shop with original signs painted on the facade. It was closed but upon the signs painted one could see clearly that it was a shoe shop.