The glorious weather makes Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, a delightful place to explore. It is a city of surprise characterized by remarkable diversity and contrasts. Addis Ababa’s cozy espresso bars and patisseries are reminiscent of Rome and the Mediterranean, and its bustling outdoor markets are colorful reminders of more traditional ways of life. The people, the bursts of music from café’s or shops, the pungent aromas of spicy cooking, of coffee and frankincense, form a unique Ethiopian pastiche.
Dominated by the 3,000-meters (9,840 feet) high at Entoto Mountains immediately to the North, Ethiopia’s largest city has grown at astonishing speed since it was founded just over a century ago.
Covering 527 square kilometers (327 square mile), the city rambles pleasantly across many wooded hillsides and gullies cut through with fast-flowing streams. Despite its proximity to the equator, its loft altitude-the third highest capital in the world- means that it enjoys a mild, Afro-alpine climate.
Addis Ababa was in effect ‘founded’ in 1886, when Emperor Menelik II’s consort, his wife queen Taitu, asked her husband for a piece of land on which to build a house at the foothills of the Entoto mountains, where Menelik has his camp. The fertile area was the site of hot springs, to which the queen and many of the courtiers spent much of their time traveling. In the same year queen Taitu gave the settlement its name; Addis Ababa, literally meaning ‘New Flower’ in Amharic.
Addis Ababa is Africa’s unchallenged diplomatic capital, with more than hundreds of embassies and consular representatives clustered in the mountain city. More over the capital hosts the head quarter of the former Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the present African Union (AU).
Each of the country’s multitude of ethnic groups is represented somewhere in the capital, as are a large number of foreign residents from all parts of the world. Amharic, Africa’s only written language with its own unique script is widely spoken through out the country and is predominant in Addis Ababa.
What to do in the New Flower?
- The National Museum, where you find Lucy, the 3,2 million years old complete fossil and other archeological finding dating back to 5.8 million years old together with Royal artifacts and paintings is a worth to see.
- The Ethnographic Museum, located in the former palace Salon and the present compound of Addis Ababa University is the right place to explore the different cultural values, customs and also musical instruments of different tribes of the country.
- The trinity cathedral, the resting place for the last King of Ethiopia and his family is also another point of attraction in the capital.
- The Emperor Menelik’s II Mausoleum, the resting place for the mentioned King, his wife and daughter is also an interesting place.
- Merkato, the grand open-air Africa’s market, where one can find from the little needle to a biggest vehicle, from traditional costumes to modern fashioned attires, from the busy spicy market to the crowded souvenir shops is an interesting shopping center.
- Entoto, the former Capital of the country with the old palace of Emperor Menelik and the best preserved Museum which has got the artifacts and gifts of the Royal family are also places of attractions and sight seeing in the capital.
- The Museum of St. George cathedral s the best collection in the city with much more time to devote for exploring together with the church, where the last king of Ethiopia, Emperor Haileselasse is coroneted.