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Yeha

Now a sleepy village of traditional stone houses centred on a 6th century church founded by Abba Aftse, Yeha was once the capital of D’mt, a well-organised pre-Aksumite trade empire whose influence stretched across the Red Sea to Yemen. The church compound is towered over by Ethiopia’s oldest standing structure: a 2,700-year-old, 12-metre high sacrificial temple dedicated to a mysterious deity called Almaqah.

The church is a wonderful treasure house of ancient manuscripts, paintings and crowns, and its exterior is inset with engravings of stylised ibexes lifted from the older Almaqah temple.

Future plans include the restoration of an ancient palace 100m from the temple, and a site museum that will display inscribed tablets, carved thrones, fertility statues and other artefacts currently housed in Addis Ababa’s National Museum.