The earliest records of Ankober as an administrative center dates back to the 12th century when King Yikuno Amlak established his base in the area.
More recently Ankober was recognized as the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Shoa/Ethiopia, with Merid Azmatch Amha Iyesus (1745-1775), a ruler descended from the Solomonic dynasty, being credited as the founder. His descendants ruled from Ankober for around a hundred years and a number of Shoan rulers, most prominent being King Sahle Selassie the grand father of Emperor Haile Selassie, are buried in the church yards in the area.
During the reign of Emperor Menelik II, Britain, France and Italy established diplomatic missions in Ankober, and the sites of their missions can still be distinguished. Menelik married Itegue Taytu at the Ankober Medhane Alem Church, where the golden wedding cloak is still kept. In 1886 Menelik decided to move the capital to its current location, Addis Ababa.
In addition to Ankober's heritage as an important historical site on its own right, the surrounding mountains, including Emmemihret, Fiqre Gimb and Gorgo and the low lands stretching up to the Red Sea have witnessed harmonious coexistence of different peoples with different religious convictions (Followers of early Judaism, Orthodox Christians, Catholics, and Moslems.) The birth place of the famous Lucy, the precursor of Mankind is only a 100 Kilometers or so from Ankober the plains of the Afar Region.