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ETHIOPIA - THE CITIES

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ETHIOPIA

THE CITIES

GONDAR - LALIBELA - HARAR - ADDIS ABABA

DIMITRA STASINOPOULOU


MAP OF ETHIOPIA

GONDAR

ADDIS ABABA

GONDAR

LALIBELA

ADDIS ABABA

HARRAR

LALIBELA

HARAR


ETHIOPIA is a fascinating country in the Horn of

Africa and the second-most populous nation on the

African continent (after Nigeria) with 107,000,000

inhabitants. It’s bordered by Eritrea to the north,

Djibouti to the northeast, Somalia to the east,

Kenya to the south, and Sudan and South Sudan

to the west.

During the late 19 th century Scramble for Africa,

Ethiopia was one of the nations to retain its sovereignty

and the only territory in Africa to defeat a

European colonial power.

Many newly-independent nations on the continent

subsequently adopted its flag colors. Ethiopia was

also the first independent member from Africa of

the 20 th century League of Nations and the United

Nations.

Being the oldest independent country in Africa and

the second-oldest official Christian nation in the

world after Armenia, Ethiopia is also the place for

the first Hijra (615 AD) in Islamic history where the

Christian king of Ethiopia accepted Muslim refugees

from Mecca sent by the prophet Mohamed.

The Old Testament of the Bible records the Queen

of Sheba’s visit to Jerusalem.

In the long and disturbed history of the African

continent, Ethiopia remains the only country which

has never been colonized (except for a brief occupation

by Italy during World War II). Ethiopia was

a founding member of the AU and is home to the

African Union’s headquarters.

Historians believe that Ethiopia may well be the

beginning of mankind. The fossils of the oldest

once-living humans or “Lucy” were discovered

here. The remains of the fossil are said to be 3.5

million years old. It is widely considered as the

region from which modern humans first set out for

the Middle East and places beyond. Ethiopia is one

of the oldest nations in the world. It has long been

an intersection between the civilizations of North

Africa, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Greek name Αιθιοπία (from Αιθίοψ, Aithiops,

‘an Ethiopian’) is a compound word, derived

from the two Greek words, from αιθω + ωψ (aitho

“I burn” + ops “face”). According to the Perseus

Digital Library, the designation properly translates

as burnt-face. The historian Herodotus used the

appellation to denote the parts of Africa below the

Sahara that were then known within the Ecumene

(inhabitable world).

In Greco-Roman epigraphs, Aethiopia was a

specific toponym for ancient Nubia. At least as

early as 850c. the name Aethiopia also occurs in

many translations of the Old Testament in allusion

to Nubia. In English, and generally outside of Ethiopia,

the country was once historically known as

Abyssinia.

Tracing its roots to the 2 nd millennium BC, Ethiopia’s

governmental system was a monarchy for most of

its history. In the first centuries AD, the Kingdom

of Aksum maintained a unified civilization in the

region, followed by the Ethiopian Empire circa

1137. Ethiopia in its roughly current form began

under the reign of Menelik II, who was Emperor

from 1889 until his death in 1913.

The early 20 th century was marked by the reign

of Emperor Haile Selassie, who was born in Harar

to parents from two of Ethiopia’s Afro-Asiatic-speaking

populations: the Oromo and Amhara,

the country’s largest ethnic groups and was an

emperor from 1916-1930. In 1974, the Ethiopian

monarchy under Haile Selassie, was overthrown

by the Derg, a communist military government

backed by the Soviet Union. In 1987, the Derg

established the People’s Democratic Republic of

Ethiopia, but it was overthrown in 1991 by the Ethiopian

People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front,

which has been the ruling political coalition since.

Ethiopia’s ancient Ge’ez script is one of the oldest

alphabets still in use in the world. A majority of

the population adheres to Christianity, whereas

around a third follows Islam. The country is the

site of the Migration to Abyssinia and the oldest

Muslim settlement in Africa at Negash. A substantial

population of Ethiopian Jews, known as Bete

Israel, also resided in Ethiopia until the 1980’s. Ethiopia

is a multilingual nation with around 80 ethnolinguistic

groups, the four largest of which are the

Oromo, Amhara, Somali and Tigrayans.

Ethiopia is the place of origin of the coffee bean,

which was first cultivated at Kefa. It is a land of

natural contrasts, with its vast fertile west, jungles,

and numerous rivers, and the world’s hottest settlement

of Dallol in its north.

The Ethiopian Highlands are the largest continuous

mountain ranges in Africa, and the Sof Omar

Caves contains the largest cave on the continent.

Ethiopia also has the most UNESCO World Heritage

Sites in Africa.

During the short Italian occupation, the Italians

merged the country with Eritrea and Italian

Somaliland to form Italian East Africa and despite

continued guerilla attacks, Abyssinia (as Ethiopia

was called then) was not able to relinquish itself

of Italian control, until the allies pushed them out

with the help of colonial troops.

Ethiopia has long been a member of international

organizations: it became a member of the League

of Nations, signed the Declaration by United

Nations in 1942, founded the UN headquarters in

Africa and was one of the 51 original members of

the UN.

Ethiopia has suffered periodic droughts and

famines that lead to a long civil conflict in the 20 th

Century and a border war with Eritrea.

Few countries are so obscured by misconception

as Ethiopia. Associated by most outsiders with

drought and famine and often presumed to be a

tract of featureless desert, it is in reality one of the

wettest, most fertile and most scenically beautiful

countries in Africa.

Ethiopia and its people today retain the fiery independence

of spirit that made it the only state to

emerge uncolonized from the nineteenth-century

Scramble for Africa.

In many respects, it is like nowhere else on earth.

Never the easiest place to travel, Ethiopia, more

than most countries, often pushes travelers outside

their comfort zone. But it is also a country whose

uniqueness and inherent peculiarity imbues every

day spent there with an aura of adventure and

discovery.


GONDAR

“AFRICA’S CAMELOT”


which affords a distant view of Lake Tana, 4 smaller

towers, and a battlemented parapet.

Archangel Michael himself stood before the large

wooden gates with a flaming sword drawn.

GONDAR is a Royal and ancient historical city

of Ethiopia and is in the list of UNESCO’S World

Heritage Sites. It stands at an elevation of 2,300m

on a basaltic ridge from which streams flanking

the town flow to Lake Tana, 24klm south and was

the capital of Ethiopia from 1632 to 1855. It is the

home of many Emperors and Princess who lead

the country from the 12 th c to the last decade of

the 20 th c. To mention just a few, Emperor Suseneos,

Emperor Fasiledes, Empress Mentwab, Iyasu

I, Tewodros II, Empress Taitu. It is the home of the

highest mountain in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen, and the

Simien Mountains National Park.

Nestled in the foothills of the Simien Mountains in

NW Ethiopia, became the capital of Ethiopia during

the reign of Emperor Fasilidas (1632-1667), who

built the first of a number of castle-like palaces to

be found here. He established a tradition that was

followed by most of his successors, whose buildings

greatly enhanced the city’s grandeur.

Until the 16 th c, the Solomonic Emperors of Ethiopia

usually had no fixed capital town, instead living in

tents in and temporary royal camps as they moved

around their realms, while their family, bodyguard

and retinue devoured surplus crops and cut down

nearby trees for firewood.

Gondar, which rose to prominence after Ethiopia

went through a long period without a fixed capital,

emerged in the 17 th c as the country’s largest

settlement. The city was an important administrative,

commercial, religious, and cultural center. It

was famous for its sophisticated aristocratic life,

its church scholarship, and its extensive trade,

which took its merchants to Sudan and the port of

Massawa, as well as to the rich lands south of the

Blue Nile. Gondar was also noted for the skill of its

many craftsmen.

The city retained its pre-eminence until the middle

of the 19 th c, when Emperor Tewodros II moved his

seat of Government to Debre Tabor and later to

Mekdela. As a result, Gondar declined greatly in

importance and was subsequently looted in the

1880s by the Sudanese Dervishes. By the early

19 th c the city was a mere shadow of its former self.

Most of Gondar’s famous castles and other imperial

buildings nevertheless survived the ravages

of time and together constitute one of Ethiopia’s

most fascinating antiquities.

FASIL GHEBBI - GONDAR’S CASTLE dubbed

the Ethiopian Camelot, is not a single castle, but

instead is the name given to the entire complex

of castles and palaces in the area. The oldest and

most impressive of Gondar’s imperial structures

is the two-storied palace of Emperor Fasilidas,

built of roughly hewn brown basalt stones held

together with mortar. Said to have been the work

of an Indian architect, the building-has a flat roof,

a rectangular tower in the south-west corner,

It is easy to imagine the intrigue and pageantry

that took place back in the seventeenth and eighteenth

centuries, when Gondar, then the Ethiopian

capital, was home to a number of emperors and

warlords, courtiers and kings. One only has to stroll

through the banqueting halls and gaze down from

the balconies of the many castles and palaces here

to drift back into a long-ago world of battles and

court conspiracies.

Although Gondar was by any definition a city, it

was not a melting pot of diverse traditions, nor

Ethiopia’s window to the larger world, according

to Donald Levine. “It served rather as an agent for

the quickened development of the Amhara’s own

culture. And thus it became a focus of national

pride not as a hotbed of alien custom and immorality,

as they often regard Addis Ababa today, but

as the most perfect embodiment of their traditional

values.

DEBRE BIRHAN SELASSIE CHURCH

On top of a hill at the edge of Gondar lies what is

considered one of the most important churches

in Ethiopia. Debre Birhan Selassie was built by

Emperor Eyasu II (also known as Birhan Seged,

“He to Whom the Light Bows”) in the 17 th c. It was

named Debre Birhan, “Mountain of Light,” after

the Emperor’s nickname, as well as in honor of the

church of the same name in Shewa. Nearly every

inch of the church’s interior has been beautifully

painted. 80 cherubic angels look down from the

ceiling while saints and demons line its walls.

It was miraculously spared in the Mahdist War of

the 1880’s when, according to legend, a swarm

of bees held off the invading soldiers, and the

The ceiling, with its rows and rows of winged

cherubs representing the omnipresence of God,

draws most eyes. There’s space for 135 cherubs,

though 13 have been erased by water damage.

Aside from the cherubs the highlights have to be

the devilish Bosch-like depiction of hell. A large

stone wall with 12 rounded towers surrounds the

compound and these represent the 12 apostles.

The larger 13 th tower (entrance gate) symbolizes

Christ and is shaped to resemble the Lion of Judah.

Fasil Ghebbi and the other remains in Gondar

city demonstrate a remarkable interface between

internal and external cultures, with cultural

elements related to Ethiopian Orthodox Church,

Ethiopian Jews and Muslims, expressed not only

through the architecture of the sites but also

through the handicrafts, painting, literature and

music that flourished in the seventeenth and

eighteenth centuries. After its decline in the 19 th c,

the city of Gondar continued to be an important

commercial and transport hub for NW Ethiopia.

GONDAR IN THE 20 TH CENTURY

After the military occupation of Ethiopia by the

Kingdom of Italy in 1936, Gondar was further developed

under Italian occupation, and the Comboni

Missionaries established in 1937 the Latin Catholic

Apostolic Prefecture of Gondar, which would be

suppressed after its only prefect’s death in 1951.

During the Second World War, Mussolini’s Italian

forces made their last stand in Gondar in November

1941, after Addis Ababa fell to British forces six

months before. The area of Gondar was one of the

main centers of activity of Italian guerrilla against

the British forces until summer 1943.


FASIL GHEBBI CASTLE


DEBRE BIRHAN SELASSIE CHURCH


LALIBELA

THE JERUSALEM OF ETHIOPIA


LALIBELA is a rural town of 15,000 people in a

stunning setting at an elevation of 2,600m, in the

midst of the Lasta mountains in the eastern highlands

of Northern Ethiopia. Its unique and remarkable

monolithic churches hewn from living rock,

most built more than 900 years ago, are one of

Ethiopia’s leading attractions and were declared a

UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.

Lalibela is a great little town to visit. Its complex of

churches from pink volcanic rock have been called

the “Eighth wonder of the world”. The town’s relative

isolation and small size means you will get to

understand more intimately and thoroughly the

innate piety and hard lives of the rural poor.

Since the town, first called Roha, was founded by

the eponymous King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela of

the Zagwe dynasty more than 900 years ago as the

“new Jerusalem”, the later-renamed Lalibela has

been a major ecclesiastical center of the Ethiopian

Orthodox Church and a place of pilgrimage to its

amazing concentration of rock-hewn churches.

Pious Ethiopians often walk hundreds of kilometers

in bare feet from all over Ethiopia to receive

blessings.

Although all the church exteriors and interiors

are carved from soft volcanic tufa, their architecture

is extremely diverse: some stand as isolated

monoliths in deep pits, while others have been cut

into the face of a cliff. Establishing a sequence or

chronology for a rock-hewn building is much more

difficult than for a conventional one, especially

when the churches in Lalibela are all in daily use

for services. Consequently, there have been long

running academic disputes as to both the time

period and duration of construction.

The Ethiopian Orthodox tradition unequivocally

recognizes the huge task represented by the

cutting of these churches and their associated

trenches, passages and tunnels. It explains the

completion of the excavation during the reign

of a single saintly king by attributing much of

the work to angels who, after the workmen had

downed tools for the day, came in on a night shift

and worked twice as fast as the human day shift

had done. In this way, work proceeded so fast that

all the churches are said to have been completed

within King Lalibela’s quarter-century rule.

Some argue that the oldest of the rock-hewn

features at Lalibela may date to the 7th or 8th

centuries CE – about 500 years earlier than the

traditional dating.

These first monuments were not originally

churches, although they were subsequently

extended in a different architectural style and

converted to ecclesiastical use. Later – perhaps

around the 12 th or 11 th century – the finest and

most sophisticated churches were added, carved

as three- or five-aisled basilicas and retaining many

architectural features derived from those of ancient

Aksum, which had flourished some 400–800 years

previously. It is the last phase of Lalibela’s development

which may be dated to the reign of King

Lalibela.

The complex of churches was extended and elaborated.

Several of the features attributed to this last

phase bear names like the Tomb of Adam or the

Church of Golgotha, which mirror those of places

visited by pilgrims to Jerusalem and its environs.

This naming has extended to natural features: the

seasonal river which flows though the site is known

as Yordanos (Jordan) and a nearby hill is Debra Zeit

(Mount of Olives).

It seems that it was King Lalibela who gave the

place its present complexity and form: a substitute

for Jerusalem as a place of pilgrimage. It may

be significant that early in King Lalibela’s reign

the Muslim Salah-ad-Din (Saladin) had captured

Jerusalem, and for this reason Ethiopians may

have felt excluded from making their traditional

pilgrimage to the Holy Land across the Red Sea.

Today, a cloth-draped feature in the Church of

Golgotha is pointed out as the Tomb of King

Lalibela.

There are 11 churches, assembled in three groups:

THE NORTHERN GROUP: Bet Medhane Alem, home

to the Lalibela Cross and believed to be the largest

monolithic church in the world, probably a copy of

St Mary of Zion in Aksum. It is linked to Bet Maryam

(possibly the oldest of the churches), Bet Golgotha

(known for its arts and said to contain the tomb of

King Lalibela), the Selassie Chapel and the Tomb of

Adam.

THE WESTERN GROUP: Bet Giyorgis, a crossshaped

church entirely carved out of a giant

rock, said to be the most finely executed and best

preserved church. This is the most prominently

featured church on the Lalibela postcards.

THE EASTERN GROUP: Bet Emanuel (possibly the

former royal chapel), Bet Merkorios (which may be

a former prison), Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel-

Rufael (possibly a former royal palace), linked to a

holy bakery.

All eleven churches are connected with passageways

11 meters deep. The largest church, the house

of Medhane, stands at a height of 10 meters, and is

33 meters long and 22 meters wide.

Near the churches, the village of Lalibela has two

storey round houses, constructed of local red

stone, and known as the Lasta Tukuls. These exceptional

churches have been the focus of pilgrimage

for Coptic Christians since the 12 th century.

All the eleven churches represent a unique artistic

achievement, in their execution, size and the

variety and boldness of their form.

The King of Lalibela set out to build a symbol of the

holy land, when pilgrimages to it were rendered

impossible by the historical situation. In the Church

of Biet Golgotha, are replicas of the tomb of Christ,

and of Adam, and the crib of the Nativity.

The holy city of Lalibela became a substitute for the

holy places of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and as

such has had considerable influence on Ethiopian

Christianity.

The whole of Lalibela offers an exceptional testimony

to the medieval and post-medieval civilization

of Ethiopia, including, next to the eleven

churches, the extensive remains of traditional, two

storey circular village houses with interior staircases

and thatched roofs.


BETE MEDHANE ALEM CHURCH


BET MARYAM CHURCH


BIETE GABRIEL RUFAEL CHURCH


BET ABBA LIBANOS CHURCH


BETE GIYORGIS CHURCH


HARRAR

“AFRICA’S MECCA”


HARAR, known to its inhabitants as Gēy, is a

walled city in eastern Ethiopia. The city is located

on a hilltop in the eastern extension of the Ethiopian

Highlands about five hundred kilometers

from Addis Ababa at an elevation of 1,885 meters

and has a population of 80,000.

Harar is different to any other Ethiopian city, a

walled town, with over 360 twisting and winding

alleys squeezed into 1 square kilometer, it is similar

to the medinas of Morocco. Harar is the Islam

capital of Ethiopia and is crammed with mosques,

colorful markets, coffee shops and crumbling walls.

It is colorful and photogenic and the Adare (Hariri)

women’s dresses and head scarves are particularly

colorful and exotic.

The most spectacular part of the cultural Heritage

is certainly the traditional Harari house, whose

architectural form is typical, specific and original,

different from the domestic layout usually known

in Muslim countries, although reminiscent of the

coastal Arab architecture. Their style is unique

in Ethiopia and their interior design quite exceptional.

When Harari people mention the “Harari culture”

they actually refer to the beauty of their houses,

which they are very proud of. At the end of the

19 th century Indian merchants built new houses

whose wooden verandas defined a different urban

landscape and influenced the construction of

Indian/Harari houses. Their architectural and ornamental

qualities are now part of the Harari cultural

heritage. The city is very well preserved, and few

modern buildings have damaged the traditional

architectural typologies.

For centuries, Harar has been a major commercial

center, linked by the trade routes with the rest of

Ethiopia, the entire Horn of Africa, the Arabian

Peninsula, and the outside world.

HARAR JUGOL, the old walled city, was listed as a

World Heritage Site in 2006 by UNESCO in recognition

of its cultural heritage. According to UNESCO,

it is “considered ‘the fourth holy city’ of Islam” with

110 mosques, three of which date from the 10 th

century and 102 shrines.

The city’s fortified walls, built between the 13 th

and 16 th centuries, even have small holes in them

to allow the hyenas to enter the city at night.

Every night there are several hyenas that make an

appearance after the ‘hyena man’ calls them.

Harar is a city that goes by many names, from the

city of saints to a living museum, while some Ethiopians

consider it to be Islam’s fourth holiest city

after Mecca, Jerusalem and Medina. It has even

been called the city of peace. Harar’s other name

is the African Mecca, and locals here claim that

the area’s inhabitants accepted Islam eight years

before people in the holy Muslim city of Medina

in the Arabian peninsula. Followers of the Prophet

Muhammad are said to have fled persecution in

Mecca around 600 AD and found sanctuary in the

Kingdom of Axum, a territory covering present-day

Ethiopia and Eritrea.

HISTORY

The Fath Madinat Harar records that the cleric

Abadir Umr -Rida and several other religious

leaders settled in Harar circa 1216. It is likely the

original inhabitants of the region were the Harla

people. According to 12 th century Jewish traveler

Benjamin Tudela, Zaila region was the land of the

Havilah, confined by Al-Habash in the west.

The Argobba and the ancestors of the Harari

people are believed to be founders of the city

Called Gēy (“the City”) by its inhabitants, Harar

emerged as the center of Islamic culture and religion

in the Horn of Africa during the end of the

Middle Ages.

The 16 th century was the city’s Golden Age. The

local culture flourished, and many poets lived

and wrote there. It also became known for coffee,

weaving, basketry and bookbinding.

From Harar, Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi, also

known as “Gurey” and “Grañ” (both meaning “the

Left-handed”), launched a war of conquest in the

16th century that extended the polity’s territory

and threatened the existence of the neighboring

Christian Ethiopian Empire. His successor, Emir Nur

ibn Mujahid, built a protective wall around the city.

Four meters in height with five gates, this structure,

called Jugol, is still intact and is a symbol of

the town to the inhabitants.

During the period of Egyptian rule (1875-1884),

Arthur Rimbaud lived in the city as the local functionary

of several different commercial companies

based in Aden; he returned in 1888 to resume

trading in coffee, musk, and skins until a fatal

disease forced him to return to France. A house

said to have been his residence is now a museum.

Harar lost some of its commercial importance with

the creation of the Addis Ababa - Djibouti Railway,

initially intended to run via the city but diverted

north of the mountains between Harar and the

Awash River to save money.

As a result of this, Dire Dawa was founded in 1902

as New Harar. It is a lower-lying and somewhat

hotter city serviced by the region’s main airport

and railway station.

Harar was captured by Italian troops during the

Second Italo-Ethiopian War on 8 May 1937. In 1995,

the city and its environs became an Ethiopian

region in its own right. The original domesticated

coffee plant is also said to have been from Harar.

The inhabitants of Harar today represent several

different Afro-Asiatic speaking ethnic groups,

both Muslim and Christian, including the Oromo

people, Somalis, Amhara people, Gurage people

and Tigrayans. The Harari people, who refer to

themselves as Gēy ‘Usu (“People of the City”) are a

Semitic-speaking people.

Due to ethnic cleansing campaign committed

against Hararis by the Haile Selassie regime,

Hararis comprise less than 10% of the population

of their city today.

Besides the stone wall surrounding the city, the

old town is home to 110 mosques and many more

shrines, centered on Feres Magagla square. What

breathes life into these landmarks is the community

that still lives within the city walls.


ARTHUR RIMBAUD HOUSE


THE CITY OF DIRE DAWA


ADDIS ABABA

THE CAPITAL


ADDIS ABABA or Addis Abeba is the capital and

largest city of Ethiopia and the seat of the Ethiopian

federal government.

The city has a total population of 3,500,000 inhabitants

and lies at an elevation of 2,400m at the

foot of Mount Entoto, it is the third highest capital

of the world and is located on a well-watered

plateau surrounded by hills and mountains, in the

geographic center of the country.

As a chartered city Addis Ababa has the status

of both a city and a state. It is where the African

Union is and its predecessor the OAU was based.

It also hosts the headquarters of the United

Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

and numerous other continental and international

organizations. Addis Ababa is therefore often

referred to as “the political capital of Africa” for its

historical, diplomatic and political significance for

the continent.

As capital of the country, Addis Ababa is a city

where, despite differences in number, almost

all-ethnic groups live in. However, the major

ethnic groups are, Amharas 48.3%, Oromos

19.2%, Guragies 17.5%, Tigrains 7.6%, and others

all together 7.4%. Regarding religion, 82% of

the population are Orthodox Christians, 12.7%

Muslims, 3.9% Protestants, 0.8% Catholics, and

0.6% followers of other religions (Hindus, Jews,

Bauhaus, Jehovah, Agnostics).

Only since the late 19 th century has Addis Ababa

been the capital of the Ethiopian state. Its immediate

predecessor, Entoto, was situated on a high

tableland and was found to be unsatisfactory

because of extreme cold and an acute shortage

of firewood. The empress Taitu, wife of Emperor

Menilek II (reigned 1889–1913), persuaded the

emperor to build a house near the hot springs at

the foot of the tableland and to grant land in the

area to members of the nobility.

The city was thus founded in 1887 and was named

Addis Ababa (“New Flower”) by the empress.

In its first years the city was more like a military

encampment than a town. The central focus was

the emperor’s palace, which was surrounded by

the dwellings of his troops and of his innumerable

retainers. As the population increased, firewood

became scarce. In 1905 a large number of eucalyptus

trees were imported from Australia; they

spread and provided a forest cover for the city.

Addis Ababa was the capital of Italian East Africa

from 1936 to 1941. Modern stone houses were

built during this period, particularly in the areas of

European residence, and many roads were paved.

Other innovations included the establishment of

a water reservoir at Gefarsa to the west and the

building of a hydroelectric station at Akaki to the

south. There were only limited changes in Addis

Ababa between 1941 and 1960, but development

has been impressive since then.

After becoming the capital of Ethiopia, Addis

Ababa grew by leaps and bounds and took on the

character of a boomtown. By 1910, the city had

approximately 70,000 permanent inhabitants and

also had between 30,000 and 50,000 temporary

inhabitants.

Addis Ababa became the site of many of Ethiopia’s

innovations. Because of the sizeable population

of Addis Ababa, a degree of labor specialization

not seen elsewhere in the empire was possible.

The rapid growth of Addis Ababa, especially soon

after the Battle of Adwa, was accompanied by the

construction of some of Ethiopia’s first modern

bridges.

On 5 May 1936, Italian troops occupied Addis

Ababa during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War,

making it the capital of Italian East Africa. Addis

Ababa was governed by the Italian Governors of

Addis Ababa from 1936 to 1941. After the Italian

army in Ethiopia was defeated by the British army,

during the Liberation of Ethiopia, Emperor Haile

Selassie returned to Addis Ababa on 5 May 1941

-five years to the very day after he had departedand

immediately began the work of re-establishing

his capital.

Emperor Haile Selassie helped form the Organization

of African Unity in 1963, and invited the new

organization to keep its headquarters in the city.

The OAU was dissolved in 2002 and replaced by the

African Union (AU), also headquartered in Addis

Ababa. The United Nations Economic Commission

for Africa also has its headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Addis Ababa was also the site of the Council of the

Oriental Orthodox Churches in 1965.

Addis Ababa is the educational and administrative

center of Ethiopia. It is the site of Addis Ababa

University (1950) and contains several teacher-training

colleges and technical schools. Also

located in the city are the Museum of the Institute

of Ethiopian Studies, the National School of

Music, the National Library and Archives, palaces

of former emperors, and governmental ministries.

Population growth fueled by rural migration

puts the city on pace to double in size within 15

years, straining existing public services, especially

including clean water and sanitation. Recent measures

to increase resilience include the development

of a BRT line to alleviate urban congestion

and a public work programs to address an unemployment

rate above 22%.

Rapid urbanization has also increased the risk of

deadly fires in Addis Ababa. Many of these residential

occur in informal settlements, making it harder

for emergency responders to contain fires once

they start.

ETHIOPIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM

Although the museum is unknown to most, the

Ethiopian National Museum is a world-class

museum. The most famous exhibit is the replica

of Lucy, an early hominid, but the museum offers

much more. With Ethiopian civilization being one

of the oldest in the world, the artifacts within the

museum span thousands of years, including some

from its earliest days. A wide variety of artifacts are

featured, from sculptures to clothing to artwork.

ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL OF NATIVITY OF

THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

It’s also known as Haile Selassie Church –the former

emperor is buried on the premises with his wife.


ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL OF NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY


NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ETHIOPIA


ETHIOPIA, THE TOWNS

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