The most northerly of Ethiopia’s federal regions, Tigrai is also the most historic part of the country, having formed the core of the Aksumite Empire for several centuries either side of the birth of Christ. The region’s principal tourist destination today is the ancient capital, Aksum, a city of ruined palaces and gigantic obelisks that is steeped in shaggy dog traditions relating to the biblical King Solomon and mysterious Queen of Sheba. Tigrai is also home to many historic churches, from the clifftop monastery of Debre Damo to the hundred-odd rock-hewn edifices carved into the escarpments and outcrops around Wukro and Mekele. The region is named after the Tigraian people, who speak a unique Semitic language called Tigrinya, and are noted for their distinctive stone architecture and the dramatic traditional hairstyles and flowing dresses worn by the women.
Subscribe to the Rough Guides newsletter and get 20% off any ebook.
Join over 50,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month.