Ethiopia: Site of the Ark of the Covenant? – CNN International

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Ethiopia’s amazing religious sites

The TabotA model of the Ark of the Covenant (known as the Tabot) is taken out of every Ethiopian church once a year for 24 hours and paraded during a procession in towns across the country. It is part of a festival known as Timket — the holiest holiday on the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian calendar.

Ethiopia’s amazing religious sites

St. Mary of TsionKnown as the ‘Mother Church of Ethiopia,’ St. Mary of Tsion is believed to house the real Ark of the Covenant, the structure that held the biblical Ten Commandments. It is guarded by a select group of monks, whose sole commitment is to protect the sacred vessel.

Ethiopia’s amazing religious sites

The Fasilides BathThe Fasilides Bath in Ethiopia’s Gondar is a UNESCO heritage site that was built in 1632 for King Fasil. Every year during Timket thousands of pilgrims flock to the city of Gondar to immerse themselves in holy water.

Ethiopia’s amazing religious sites

Wukro Chirkos churchWukro in Ethiopia’s Tigray region is home to more than 100 rock-hewn churches. Wukro Chirkos is over 1,000 years old, and still attracts worshipers.

Ethiopia’s amazing religious sites

NegashThe tiny village of Negash is home to Ethiopia’s first Muslim community, and one of the most important sites in Islam. Legend has it that the Prophet Mohammed’s daughter lived her for a time. Currently, it is under renovation to be considered for UNESCO world Heritage status.

Ethiopia’s amazing religious sites

Almagah TempleThis 9th century temple was only discovered a few years ago when archaeologists uncovered an alter and found the religious relic underneath. The altar has an inscription in the now-dead Sabaen language dedicated to the god Almagah, who was worshiped by the Sheba. Archaeologists are still excavating the temple, and hope it will one day be the first open museum in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s amazing religious sites

Yeha TempleThe Yeha Temple is believed to be the oldest-standing structure in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also dedicated to Almagah, the one-time god of the moon. In the 6th century, the temple — which had since been abandoned — became a Christian place of worship.

Ethiopia’s amazing religious sites

AksumThe ancient city of Aksum was the center of Ethiopian power from the 1st to the 8th century AD. The preserved ruins from the city are today a UNESCO world heritage site. There are approximately 600 stelae, or stone slabs, in the area, as well as underground tombs.

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