Tigray Region

Tigray Region, Ethiopia


The northern region of Tigray is home to extraordinary historical sites dating back more than three millennia. These include Yeha Temple, Ethiopia’s oldest monument, and pre-Christian structures such as the Obelisk of Axum. Most intriguing of the area’s attractions are more than 120 rock churches carved into the hillsides. Many of these are used as monasteries and house religious artefacts such as manuscripts, gold and silver crosses, and inscribed stones.

History & Culture

The province is the most influential in regards to Ethiopian culture and history, and Tigray is where most wars has been fought and thereby make the symbol of independent especially after defeating Italy in 1896. Thus, Tigray is the source of Ethiopian religion (both Christian and Islam), Music, alphabet, and soverginity. It is the home of the Tigray people; they use Tigrigna as their mother tongue. The situation between Tigray, Eritrea and Ethiopia is complicated. As the uprising against the Derg Regime started in Aksum the area was involved in seventeen years of war ending with replacement of military junta by federal system and Eritrea was get her independence from Ethiopia in 1993 by the help of Tigray people. A two year boorder war between Ethiopia and Eritrea was broke out.

The question whether Tigray should be independent or a part of Ethiopia is a tense subject which provokes arguments and grudges. At the creation of Ethiopia, during the time of Queen of Sheba until the creation of Lalibela, Aksum served as the capital for almost 2000 years. A lot of Ethiopian culture, religion and history has been created here. Due to war and threat from Muslims who had conquered Somalia and Yemen, the new capital was built in the mountains out of range of the Muslim armies. This made Tigray slowly be forgotten until the 19th century when Emperor Yohannes IV decided to move the capital away from Gondar to Mekele where the greatest salt fields in Africa were located, making Tigray important again. The money the salt export provided Ethiopia bought weapons via the help of French traders in Harar (one of them being Rimbaud)in conjunction with Russian support against the Italians at the battle of Adwa in 1896, making Ethiopia the first country in Africa not colonised.

Getting Here

By Air: There are two main airports in Tigray, Aksum and Mekele. From those there are daily flights heading south towards Addis Abeba, Lalibela, Gondar and Bahir Dar. Most flights to Gondar and Bahir Dar also make a 15 minutes stopover in Lalibela. There are also daily flights between Aksum and Mekele.

By Bus: There are two main roads leading to Tigray: Highway 1 which runs all the way between Addis Abeba and Asmara through Mekele and the road between Aksum and Gondar. Notice that the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia is closed. For further information about how to get in by bus check the pages for Mekele and Aksum.

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