Mariam Zion(Hidar Zion Festival )- Celebration of Saint Mary of Axum

Program: Tour to Omo Valley withMeskel (Finding of the true cross) festival in Addis Ababa
Tour Code: TT1306
Duration: 9 nights/   10 days
Transportation: Land/Air


Mariam Zion(Hidar Zion)- Celebration of Saint Mary of Axum is one of themain festivals celebrated in Axum. This festival is celebrated once a year to venerate St. Mary and especially to honor the believed existence of the Ark of the Covenant in St. Mary church of Axum. It is celebrated on November 30th (December 1st in a leap year), Hidar 21 according to the Ethiopian calendar. The celebration starts from the eve of the actual festival date.

St. Mary of Zion claims to contain the original Ark of the Covenant. Reportedly, the Ark was moved to the Chapel of the Tablet adjacent to the old church because a divine 'heat' from the Tablets had cracked the stones of its previous sanctum. Emperor Haile Selassie's wife, Empress Menen paid for the construction of the new chapel.

According to tradition, the Ark came to Ethiopia with Minilik I  after he visited his father King Solomon, whose mother was the Queen of Sheba. Only the guardian monk may view the Ark,in accordance with the Biblical accounts of the dangers of doing so for non-Kohanim. This lack of accessibility, and questions about the account as a whole, has led foreign scholars to express doubt about the veracity of the claim. The guardian monk is appointed for life by his predecessor before the predecessor dies. If the incumbent guardian dies without naming a successor, then the monks of the monastery hold an election to select the new guardian. The guardian then is confined to the chapel of the Ark of the Covenant for the rest of his life, praying before it and offering incense.

Axum Zion (Hidar Zion) is associated with the presence of the Ark of the Covenant in Axum. This church is the first to be built in Ethiopia. This festival is attended by hundreds and thousands of people from all over the World every year, making it one of the most joyous annual pilgrimages in Axum, the "sacred city of the Ethiopians”.

Nov 22: ARRIVAL-Arrival and be met by our professional guides at the airport and then transferred to your hotel, if you have time, you will do city tour of Addis. Overnight in a hotel

Nov 23: ADDIS-LALIBELA-Fly to Lalibela, then start your visit to the 1st and 2nd group of Rock hewn churches of Lalibela, which are registered in UNESCO. Overnight in a hotel

Nov 24: LALIBELA- morning visit of Asheton Mariam church then drive to visit the magnificent historic church of NakutoLa'eb. Overnight in a hotel

Nov 25: LALIBELA- BAHIR DAR-drive toBahir Dar, the drive 32 km to visit the the Blue Nile Falls and then get back to the town. Overnight in a hotel

Nov 26: BAHIR DAR- GONDAR- boatcrossing on Lake Tana to Gorgora and visit some the Island monasteries. Up on arrival at Gorgora, meet your vehicle to take you to the town of Gondar. Overnight in a hotel.

Nov 27: GONDAR- full day visit of the 17thcentuary King Fasilcastel compound as well the most impressive of DebreBirhan Selassie &Queskuam Mariam churches. Overnight in a hotel.

Nov 28: GONDAR- SEMIEN PARK-drive to Simien chain Mountains to spot the endemic chilada Baboons,the unique flora as well as to admire the natural breathtaking landscape. Overnight in a hotel/Lodge.

Nov 29: SEMIEN PARK- AXUM- leave for Axum and upon arrival, start to attend the eve of HidarTsion Mariam festival in the beautiful church of Axum Tsion Mariam, where all the Christians pray and chant dressed in white. Overnight in a hotel.

Nov 30:AXUM- attend the extended HidarTsion festival until noon. After lunch, have a city tour of the ancient town of Axum,the Stele parks,museum,king Kalebs Tombs and bath of the Queen of Sheba. Overnight in a hotel.

Dec 1:AXUM-ADDIS- transfer to the airport for your flight back to Addis Ababa. In the afternoon, do shopping in souvenir shops, have dinner at one of the traditional restaurants, departure.

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