At the foot of two hills lies Aksum, a highland plateau: Bête Giorgis to the northwest and Mai Qoho to the east. It was described by Rodolfo Fattovich et al. as “a fertile plain bounded by a crown of hills.”
A small town of about 50,000 inhabitants, Aksum is a tale of two towns: the old and the young, the past and the present. However, unlike other places around the world, race, religion, class and wealth in today’s Aksum are not as important divisive factors as these.
The exact date on which Aksum was established is not clear. However, records indicate that since the 4th-2nd century BC, the general area of Aksum and its surroundings have been settlement places. As mentioned in the “Erythra Sea Periplus” (40 AD – 70 AD), by the mid 1st century AD, Aksum was a “metropolis” (or a “people’s city”). Aksum was a town of “about 600 houses” in 1770, according to the famous traveler James Bruce.
Old Town Aksum is the goldmine of an archeologist willing to reveal more fascinating historical mysteries. The old town, dominated by Stele Park and St. Mary’s Cathedral, represents the past where historical layers are buried. There are the most important religious sites and archeological sites of Aksum, including Ezana Gardens, the tomb of King Bazen, and King Kaleb’s tomb. Ordinary stroke units, houses of former aristocrats, farmhouses and monastic dwellings give the old town a sense of an untouched community living in untouched ancient times.
In Aksum, Queen Sheba also left her traces. Apart from the multitude of stories composed to glorify her, the queen is remembered today by her ruined palace uncovered in the 1960s, among other things, and the water reservoir where she used to swim. The bath of Queen Sheba, Mai Shum (the water of the Chief), and her ruined palace known as Dungur are important archeological and tourist sites of interest. The richness of its fascinating history has put the city in the hall of fame of the world. The city was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1972.
The modern Yeha Hotel is located on the hillside overlooking the old town and blends architecturally with both the natural environment and the neighborhoods. It offers a panoramic view of the Stele Park, the Cathedral of Mariam Tsion and the Old City in general.