Axum is a city in Tigray, located at the base of the Adoua mountains. It was the capital of the Axumite Kingdom circa 1 – 12th century AD. The Kingdom became a Christian nation between 235 or 238 AD.

Axum was founded by people who crossed from South Arabia (Yemen) circa 5th century BC. The official spoken and written language of the period was Ge'ez. Under King Ezana, who was baptized as Abriha in 3rd century AD, Axum reached its golden years.

According to the Old Testament, the Queen of Sheba traveled to Israel to meet King Solomon. The royal couple had a son named Menelik, who became the first king of Ethiopia. Menelik brought the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia from Israel.

The Ark of the Covenant is claimed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to be stored in the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion. It is guarded by a select group of monks, whose mission is to protect the Ark. The fate of the Ark of the Covenant is still under dispute by historians. Another version claims that the Ark was transferred into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar after the destruction of the temple.

Axum is considered to be the holiest city in Ethopia and is an important destination for pilgrims. Important religious festivals are the Epiphany on 7th January and the Festival of Maryam Zion in late November. Muslims failed to build Mosques in Axum due to the holiness of the city to Christians. Orthodox Christians replied if Muslims want to build Mosques at Axum, an Ethiopian Orthodox Church must be built in Mecca.

Axum maintained its position as a strong empire and trading power until Islam rose in the 7th century AD. Because of Axum's good relations with Muslims which initially developed by the time when it sheltered early Muslim converts from Mecca's persecution, Muslims never overthrew Axum while Islam was spreading over Africa.

Two Christian states north of Axum, Maqurra and Alwa, continued to survive until the 13th century, until demographics changed by continued Muslim immigration which forced the kingdom to became Islamic. The city of Axum continues to be Christian until the present day.


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