Made with everything from plain wood to priceless gold, the ornate Christian crosses characteristic of Ethiopia are not only the country’s most widely displayed religious icons, but also – in smaller, hand-held form – perhaps the most popular souvenirs with tourists. Ethiopian crosses come in several different styles, the best known being named after Lalibela, Aksum and Gondar, the cities from which the design derives. On the whole, they are far more elaborately decorated and intricately worked than any cross associated with other Christian denominations – many larger crosses boast complex lattices of curves and lines symbolizing the nature of eternity or the intertwined divine and human facets of Jesus’s nature. The most elaborate adorn the roofs or exteriors of many churches, and treasuries of heavy old gold and silver crosses are stashed away in many of the north’s more historic churches.

For souvenirs, the small and relatively unadorned wooden crosses that many locals wear around their neck can easily be bought at any handicraft stall or market as can the small- to medium-sized metal crosses whose square bases fit snugly into the hand.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Ethiopia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A first-timer's guide to Ethiopia

A first-timer's guide to Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world: its long archaeological history – which traces back to the first humans – has left behind a successio…

04 Sep 2017 • Nellie Huang insert_drive_file Article
17 striking portraits of Ethiopia's Omo Valley tribes

17 striking portraits of Ethiopia's Omo Valley tribes

Renowned the world over for its decorated tribes, the Omo Valley is a stop on many a tourist route in Ethiopia. But visits to the area can cross ethical boundar…

20 May 2016 • Tim Draper insert_drive_file Article
Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures

Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures

Today Ethiopia is celebrating Christmas. Following the Julian calendar, this East African, Orthodox Christian nation celebrates Christmas on the 7th January eac…

07 Jan 2016 • Karoki Lewis insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs