THE MASSIVE ROCK churches of Lalibela are rightly famous, but there are equally impressive mountain top churches scattered around the town of Hawzen. Axum is home to the Ark Of The Covenant and some of the largest obelisk in the world.
Colourful sacred texts in The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, Axum.
A young lad, who guided us to the petroglyph sites outside Axum, surveys the landscape.
A game of soccer in the streets of Axum.
Solid stone houses in Axum.
Dungur, also known as the Palace Of The Queen Of Sheba, contains mansions from its time as a capital in the 4th and 5th centuries.
The Lioness of Gobedra, legend says was left after the Archangel Michael threw the lion so hard, it left this imprint on the rock.
In the shadows of the fromer Aksumite capital of Dungur, with a plough that looks like it was borrowed from a musuem, a farmer galliantly tries to coax life from the rocky soil.
The stelae -giant carved obelisk- of Axum are some of the largest single pieces of sculpted rock in the world.
The road to Axum (Aksum) from Debark is often rated amongst the world's most dangerous, including by Top Gear. The scenery is a good as the bus is old.
I was personally less than impressed with Axum. The stelae are impressive: they were carved from a single piece of rock. But after a few minutes, I was more interested in the lizards, birds and squirrels.
Home to The Ark Of The Covenant, the chest supposedly containing the Ten Commandments. Not that you can see it. Or even get close to it. You can look at the building (not this one, but on same grounds) from about 20 metres away. Arguably the most underwhelming site I have been to.
Despite their immense height (up to 33 metres) and weight (500 tonnes) Italy stole the Obelisk of Axum in 1937, not returning it until 2008. Other lie where they have fallen over their 1600 year lifetime.
Around the town of Hawzen, stunning scenery meets historic religious buildings.
Hawzen itself is otherwise a dusty, one horse town. However it did surpirse us by having, despite its barren surrounds, fresh garden salad on the menu- and actually available!
A farmer? A teacher? A former soldier? A man who looks like he has seen a lot.
Like most Ethiopian Orthodox churches, the Tigrayan rock churches are finely decorated with colourful bible stories.
The peaks are dotted with churches, and getting to them often involves steep, precipitous climbs, clambering on ledges and not looking down.
Visiting the churches is not a stroll. There are rocks to climb over and down, and paths to follow. There is a guiding association in town.
Some of the churches are large, spacious affairs like this one; others are enlarged caves.
Many of not most of the churches still operate. Visiting some will involve waiting for a priest to turn up with a key (and a favour to ask).
There are over a hundred churches in the region, dating back to the 4th or 5th century, making them some of the oldest in the world.
A sacred umbrella, a few hundred years old.
Ethiopia is a twitcher's paradise, with colourful birds common in cities and towns, and many lakes like Ziwa in the south teeming with birdlife.
After the fall of Jerusalam in the 12th century, King Lalibela set out to build a "New Jerusalam" in the town which now bears his name.
About a dozen main churches are carved into the rock and hills around Lalibela.
"I weary of writing more about these buildings, because it seems to me that I shall not be believed if I write more."
Portuguese priest Francisco Álvares in the 1520s.
A modern arrival in an ancient town
Ethiopian authorities know they have a unique "product" and charge steeply for foreign visitors. So do Apple, Nike though.
Away from the churches, Lalibela is a working town serving the surrounding farming communities.
Bete Giyorgis in Amharic, Church of St George, the highlight of these wondorous places. It is the largest building in the world to be cut on four sides away from rock.
Farmers walk past the ancient ruins of Dungur. It is unlikely much has changed for farmers since the walls contained a great capital.