Ethiopia’s earliest known capital, Yeha, lies in a remote part of the region some hours’ drive from Aksum through some dramatic highland scenery. As the birthplace of the country’s earliest high civilization, it is well worth visiting. There are the imposing ruins of Yeha’s Temple of the Moon – a large, pre-Christian shrine erected around the fifth century BC – as well as a modern church dedicated to Abba Aftse, one of the ‘Nine Saints’ from Syria who founded many important monasteries in northern Ethiopia in the fifth and sixth centuries. The building’s front facade has been fitted with stones from the original temple, and the church contains many crosses, old manuscripts, and stones bearing ancient Sabaean inscriptions, all of which can be seen on request.

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