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Adis Ababa the Capital City of Ethiopia


In 1886 the King of Shoa –who became later Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia- decided to move with his court from Ankober to Entoto Mountains. Probably he remembered that althis grandfather Sahle Selassie had prophesized that his grandson should build a big house at the foot of Entoto mountains which should develop into a big city. Menelik’s wife Taitu enjoyed it very much to bath in the hot springs at Filwoha and asked her husband to built their new palace there. However, the problem was to get enough fuel wood, which was only available more than 20 km. away. So in 1900 Menelik decided to move his court to Addis Alem, which was situated in the forested mountains. But soon a better solution occured: a foreigner took some eucalyptualts seeds and when Menelik saw how quickly these trees w ere growing, he imported a huge a mo unt of seeds and after some years the Entoto Mountains began to be covered with eucalyptus trees. So the fuel wood problem was solved and Menelik and his household turned back to the Filwoha springs. Queen Taitu gave their new home the name “Addis Abeba” (= new flower) and this was the birth of the new capital. For 20 years the new capital of Ethiopia was only the palace, a few scattered huts and some stone office buildings and the “roads” where muddy tracks. It was during the reign of emperor Haile Selassie that the city began to expand. Special during the Italian occupation there was much building activity and also the quality of the roads was improved.

Modern Addis Abeba

Nowadays the capital of Ethiopia with its more than 3 million inhabitants is for most travelers the first meeting with the Ethiopian culture and atmosphere. The first impression of Addis Abeba can be rather overwhelming with an explosion of odors, colors, sounds and impressions.alt Addis Abeba is Ethiopia in a nutshell, a place where you can see all the different tribes of Ethiopia. Addis Abeba is not only the capital fof Ethiopia but also de capital of Africa where the meetings of the African Union take place. Addis Abeba is a crossroad of the traditional and modern, wealth and poverty, a city full of contrasts.The streets are crowded with traditional clothed women, sometimes with heavy loads of fuel wood, well dressed business men with mobile telephones, herds with their cattle (even on the ring road!), beggars and modern jeans youth, latest model cars and old Lada- or minibus taxi’s, towering glass buildings with offices and slums, modern shopping centres and traditional markets.

Addis Abeba is attractive as well as heart-breaking……attractive because of its vivid multicultural atmosphere and activity, friendliness of the people, safety, interesting sights, entertainment and beautiful green mountains on the background. But heart breaking because of the pollution and poverty which you seealt everywhere around in the huge slums, beggars and streetchildren.

Climate and Surroundings

The capital of Ethiopia is the third highest capital of the world, situated on an altitude of 2300 m. on the foot of the with eucalyptus forest covered Entoto mountains which rise up more than 3000 m. The city expands more and more in the direction of the mountains so much forest has been cut already, also for agricultural use.

The temperature at daytime is between 16 and 23 degrees Celcius. During daytime the sun can be rather strong but in the shadow it can be chilly and in the night temperatures can fall down between 0 and 10 degrees Celcius.

Specially during rain seasons in March-April and July-September there can be much and heavy rains but also in the other months there is an average rainfall of ……


In the capital of Ethiopia there are many (coffee)bars, restaurants and night clubs. You can enjoy meals from all parts of the world such as Italian, Asian, Arabian and Mediterranean food. Or try a real traditional Ethiopian meal with life traditional music and dance in one of the many cultural restaurants. There are also several cinemas and theatres to see international or local films and drama.

Interesting Sights

The most interesting musea and monuments in the capital of Ethiopia are:

  • The National Museum which is the best museum of East Africa with an large collection archeolocial excavations, historical objects and Ethiopian art.
  • The Ethnographic Museum has a wonderful exhibition of the culture, houses, cloth, objects and traditions of the many Ethiopian ethnical groups. On the second floor you can see an impressive exhibition of traditional musical instruments and religious art from 13th – 20th century.

  • In the Asni gallery you can see works of art of modern Ethiopian artists

  • The Churches of Kiddist Maryam (1911), Kidane Mehret and Kiddist Selassie (Holy Trinity, 1alt933) are built on walking distance and they have beautiful wall paintings and Church treasures. They are also of historical value with the mausoleum of emperor Menelik II and Haile Selassie and their wifes.

The Giorgis cathedral (1905) is famous for its wall paintings from the famous Ethiopian artist Afewerk Tekle. It has also a museum.

  • In the Entoto mountains you can enjoy the panoramic view over Addis Abeba, enjoy nature and visit the Entoto Maryam Church which is the oldest Church of Addis Abeba, founded by Emperor Menelik II. Next to the Church is the Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu Memorial Museum.

  • Piazza is one of the oldest parts of the city with many small shops and Merkato is the largest open air market of Africa where you can buy nearly everything.

Day- and Weekend trips around the capital of Ethiopia

  • A few kilometer outside Addis you can visit 2 medieval rock hewn Churches: the Washa Mikael Church and the Kidus Raquel Church (2 km. behind Entoto Maryam Church). Special the Washa Mikael Church is difficult to find so you have to take a driver or guide who knows the place.

  • Bird and nature lovers can make a daytrip to Gefersa water reservoir and Chilimo forest, resp. 18 km. and 90 km. from Addis Abeba on the road to Ambo. Along this route, you can also visit Addis Alem, the place where Menelik II started to built a palace. On the foundations of this palace the Ejare Debre Tsion Church was built in 1902. You can extend the trip to Ambo and the Guder waterfalls with one night in a hotel in Ambo or in the Guder falls hotel.

  • To get an impression of the original forest which covered 30% of Ethiopia appr. 50 years ago, you can make a daytrip to the Menagesha National Forest. The forest is only accessible via the Addis-Jimma road, 16 km. past Sebeta village. The headquarter has a guesthouse if you want to stay for overnight and they have local guides.

  • If you have have 3 days to spend, you can you can make a roundtrip Addis Abeba-Gefersa-Chilimo-Ambo-Wenchi-weliso-Menagesha-Addis Abeba. (appr. 315 km.). So you can combine above mentioned excursions with a visit to the beautiful Wenchi crater lake and Weliso Negash lodge.

  • Equus Ethiopia (www.equus-ethiopia.com) organizes horse riding daytrips in a beautiful natural settlement only 20 km. from Addis. They also organize overnight trekkings with horses, from 2 days up to 2 weeks.

  • Melka Konture Archeological site, Adadi Maryam rock hewn Church and Tiya Stellae field are all on the same route near to the asphalt road to Butajira. You can altdo this excursions in 1 day with an early start but it is also a very nice weekendtrip with 1 night at lake Langano.

  • On the route from Addis to Debre Zeit you can visit the Akaki wetlands and the crater lakes around Debre Zeit (lake Chelekleka, Bishoftu, Hora, Kuriftu &Guda) and you can climb Yerer and Zuquala mountains. Volcanic mount Zuquala is situated 30 km. southwest of Debre Zeit and you can only reach it by 4WD.

  • Sodore (130 km. south of Adama) is a good place for a weekend relaxing, swimming and bathing in hot spring water. You can combine it with a visit to Awash National Park,100 km. east of Adama where you can see herds of Bysa Oryx and some other animals and many bird species. The waterfall of the Awash river inside the park is impressive after rain time. You can sleep in Awash falls lodge near to the waterfall. Also the gorge of the Awash river and the hot springs in the park are worth a visit. www.awashfallslodge.com
  • Guassa Plateau: A beautiful area, about 6 hours drive north of Addis via Debre Birhan and Debre Sina. In this well-preserved natural area more than 3000 m above sea level is a small, cozy lodge and you can make wonderful hikes in the Afro-Alpine landscape during which you can observe Gelada baboons and Ethiopian wolf. www.guassaarea.org

  • Ankober (175 km. north of Addis Abeba) in a wonderful mountain area is a very nice goal for a weekend trip with overnight in the Ankober palace lodge (www.ankoberlodge.com.et) which organizes interesting excursions.

  • A weekend trip to Debre Libanos Monastry (130 km.) with overnight in the nearby beautiful situated Ethio-German lodge. En route you can also visit the Muger gorge with the Durba Waterfall and Jemma Valley.