Though it may not be considered a wealthy nation by economic standards, Ethiopia is a land immensely rich culture and heritage. The country is old beyond imagination, home of “Lucy” the 3 million years old human ancestor, but it also offers modern conveniences for visitors.
Although it is close to the equator, Ethiopia’s mountains, rivers and lakes give it mild temperature year-round. Unique among African countries Ethiopia was never colonized and has enjoyed a long history of independence. Its traditions remain in history and religion. The population for 2020 is 115,000,000 of which 64% is Christian with the majority being Ethiopian Orthodox and about 50% of the Christians are Protestants. The balance are Muslim. Ethiopia is mentioned more than three dozen times in the Old Testament in the books of Amos, Genesis and Numbers, plus it is mentioned in the book of Acts of the New Testament.
Ethiopia geographically is split between north and south. The south is more tribal and less visited. The north is known as the historic and religious route. The north includes the major Christian sites starting with Addis Ababa, the capital city; Axum, the crossroads between Africa and Asia; Gondar, the Camelot of Africa; Bahir Dar, the source of the Nile with Lake Tana and Lalibela, land of monolithic churches.
The capital city of Addis Ababa was founded in 1886 by Emperor Menelik’s consort Queen Taytu. Addis Ababa is located at the foothills of Entoto Mountains and has a population of 4.8 million. Addis Ababa is home to the secretariat of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. It also hosts more foreign embassies and international missions than any city except Washington, D.C.
Our tour Ethiopia of the Old and New Testament is focused on the religious hence we visit Addis Ababa, Axum, Gondar, Bahir Dar and Lalibella.
In Addis Ababa we stop at top of Entoto, visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Ethnological Museum, visit a church of personal interest.
Axum, referred to as the sacred city of Ethiopians, as the capital of Axumite kingdom where we will visit the Church of St. Mary Zion where according to legend the Biblical Ark of the Covenant was placed. It also famous for its seven mysterious monolithic steles.
Church of Our Lady in Zion in Axum
Gondar is called the Camelot of Africa because of the graceful medieval castles built by the Portuguese. The city was founded in 1635 by Emperor Fasilidas. Gondar was the capital of the country for over 200 years. There are many churches but the most famous is the Debre Birham Selassie which features beautiful ornate murals.
Church in Lalibela
Bahir Dar, located on the southern shores of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile and the exciting Blue Nile Falls. This location offers access by boat to several lakeside churches and monasteries.
Lalibella, designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site, is home to 11 rock-hewn monolithic churches built by King Lalibella during the 11th and 12th century.
Ethiopia is a beautiful, rugged land that offers unforgettable Christian travel experience.
Nicholas Mancino has been serving the church through travel for over 50 years, having begun his ministry in travel in the 1960s. He is the cofounder and president of Journeys Unlimited, where he’s helped thousands of fellow Christians encounter the Spirit and bask in Christian fellowship while traveling to the Holy Land and beyond. You can reach Nick with your inquiries by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 800-486-8359
In the holy land, where every stone has a story to tell, we take a break on the road to Jerusalem and explore what daily life in the time of Christ was like:
The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela; St. Mary’s church where the Ark of the Covenant is believed to lie; the castles of Gondar; the monasteries of Bahir Dar; these few highlights barely scratch the surface of the immense hidden treasure trove waiting to be explore.
The area around the Sea of Galilee is rich in biblical sites. One site that no visitor should miss is Cana.
It can be difficult to summarize all the senses, emotions and learnings one experiences when visiting the lands of the bible for the first time.