Highlights, Tour AA-05
Adadi Mariam is a subterranean rock-hewn church similar to those of Lalibela. This church is unique as it is the southern-most church of its type, and stands alone – no other rock-hewn churches are in the area. It has been surmised that King Lalibela ordered the construction of Adida Mariam for his visit to southern Ethiopia. The site dates to the 13th century, but is still an active site of worship. While it dates to around the same time as the Tiya stelae, and is only ~30km north of them, Adadi Mariam provides a strong contrast to the pagan-like aura at Tiya.
Close by to the Adadi Mariam church are the stelae of Tiya. The monuments – 36 in all – are the remains of an ancient Ethiopian cultu re, standing between 1 and 2 meters in height. Excavations have revealed that the site is an ancient cemetery, housing the remains of both males and females, aging from ages 18 to 30. Dating to between the 10th and 15th centuries, the stelae are covered in symbols whose meaning remains unknown. The swords and other symbols carved into the rock are unique to themselves; no other symbols of their type have been discovered. Even though this site is only 100km south of Addis Ababa, is easily accessible from the main road, and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is relatively untouched by tourism compared to other parts of Ethiopia.