Tigrai, best described as the open-air museum, is the northernmost state in Ethiopia. It is situated between 12°–15° N and 36° 30′ – 40° 30′ E and comprises 53,638 square kilometres (20,710 sq mi). Tigrai’s official language is Tigrigna. Tigray has more than 5 million inhabitants. The greatest part of the population (more than 80%) are agriculturalists, contributing 46% to the state gross domestic product (2002/03). The highlands (11.5% Degua, 40.5% weyna Degua) have the highest population density, specially in eastern and central Tigrai. The much less densely populated lowlands of Tigray (Qolla) comprise 48% of Tigrai.
Tigray is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Sudan to the west, the Amhara Region to the south and the Afar Region to the east and south east.
Tigrai has been home to successive waves of civilizations through the millennia. Each has left its own footprints by erecting monuments, building palaces and temples, curving rock-churches, writing stone and skin inscriptions, inventing unique language with its own alphanumeric writing and so on. Temples, elaborate palaces, great stone stelae, magnificent tombs and early churches and mosque stand as testimony to the ebb and flow of humanity in the region. They are set against an extraordinary biblical landscape in which the life led by the people has much that is timeless creating wonders and triggering questions to tourists from around the world.
Christianity was introduced in the fourth century to the kingdom of Axum. Monasteries were soon built and curved out of rockes to became centers for worship, learning, translating Greek and Hebrew books, including the Bible in the fifth century. By the end of the sixth century Islam was introduced to the kingdom Axum in Tigrai. The first mosque in Africa was then built in this kingdom at a specific place known as Negash. This uniquely identify Tigrai in its harmony and freedom of belief systems.
The first stirrings of civilization in Ethiopia are most vividly evoked by the great Temple of the Moon at Yeha, the most tangible embodiment of the kingdom of Da’amat, which probably dates back as far as the 13th century BC, according to recent excavations, and which, at its height, encompassed the territory of both modern Tigrai and Eritrea in the Ethiopian highlands. The site of Axum also reveals monuments attesting to very early engineering feats, architectural skills and techniques. During its time as a major world power, the Axumit Empire maintained trade relations with India, Ceylon, South Arabia and the Roman Empire (Including Syria, Palestine and Egypt). Many other archaeological finds such as Hawelti, Menebeiti, Hinzat, Addi-Akawuh, and Sekera also add witness to the long history of Tigrai.
Tigrai, as already said, is an open-air museum. Its pleasantly mild climate with beautiful and welcoming people, untouched cultural historic, religious and natural attractions and resources, has made it to the must-visit list of tourists among the rare places on earth. But for tourists coming for short stay, the most poplar must-see sites can be described as:
- Axum/Aksum: stelae field, tombs, ruined palaces, old churches, etc
- Gheralta Landscapes & churches
- Rock-churches & Monasteries: scattered on the mountain chains from Temben to Hawzen, Gheralta and then to Atsbi and Enderta
- Al-Nejashi Mosque
- Meqele & Surounding: Emperor Yohannes IV Palace/Museum, Cheleanqua, Kokholo, Hawelti, Choma,
- Kafta-Sheraro National Park
- Forest Reserves of Desa, Hugumbirda and Girakahsu
- Hashenge, the only highland lake in Tigrai
- Highly inaccessible monasteries: Abune Yemaeta, Debre Damo, Gundagundo, Amba Meskel
- Events and Celebrations: Ashenda, Meskel, Timqet, Hosaena
The chained mountains and breathtaking landscapes of Adwa, Gheralta, Asimba, Temben, Wolqait, Ambalage, Tsibet, Girakahsu, etc and other similar ones are an appealing experience only contested by the dream like impression of a world class artist. Culture and life style are also important values uniquely manifested in Tigrai. Traditional songs, dances, religious ceremony, rituals and life style of indigenous peoples are also priceless assets of this less promoted society.
If you are looking for a peaceful place to visit, and learn a life time experience, step-in-to Tigrai, and you will never feel the same. At Hadgi Tourism, we’ve tailored itinerary to choose from as well as rooms for custom packages.