Addis Ababa

With a population of more than five million people, Addis Ababa is not only the political capital but also the economic and social nerve center of Ethiopia. Also, the fourth capital in the world founded by Emperor Menelik II in 1887, this big, sprawling, hospitable city still bears the stamp of his exuberant personality. More than 21,000 hectares in area, Addis Ababa is situated in the foothills of the 3,000 meters Entoto Mountains and rambles pleasantly across many wooded hillsides and gullies cut through with fast-flowing streams.

Like any other capital in the world, there is more than enough for anybody to do in Addis There are numerous restaurants offering various exotic dishes from many parts of the world. Ethiopia food is served at the majority and there are Chinese, Italian, French, Indian, Armenian, Arabic, Greek, and many other specialist restaurants. Indeed, it is possible to eat your way around the world without ever leaving Addis Ababa. On the entertainment side, several cinemas show international films with English dialogue or sub-titles. Most of these cinemas also stage dramas in Amharic depicting Ethiopia’s social and cultural life during different historical epochs.

Shopping in Addis is a delight and the shops are fairly well stocked with almost all consumer goods. The local jewelry, sold by the weight of gold or silver, is in particularly high demand. The main market place is known as the Mercato,

is the largest open market place in Africa and has a wonderful range of goods and products, items of local art and Ethiopia curios and antiques.

At the shops in town, however, prices are fixed, although a small discount is often allowed on large purchases.

If you have some spare time during your stay there are a number of places that are well worth a visit. The Addis Ababa University, whose campus occupies a palace built by Haile Selassie before the Italian occupation of Ethiopia, houses the Institute of Ethiopia studies and the Ethnological Museum. The StGeorge Cathedral was built in 1896 I the traditional octagonal shape in commemoration of Ethiopia’s military success at the Battle of Adwa (St. George is the patron saint of a soldier) and house modern paintings by Master-Artist Afework Tekle, an Ethiopian painter whose work has won wide international recognition. The Menilek Mausoleum was built in 1911 and the Trinity Cathedral in 1941. Both serve as tombs of emperors, princes and Ethiopian martyrs of freedom. Menilek’s wife, Taitu, and his daughter, Zewditu, are also entombed at the Mausoleum.