GONDAR - LALIBELA - HARAR - ADDIS ABABA
MAP OF ETHIOPIA
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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 or Addis Abeba is the capital and
largest city of Ethiopia and the seat of the Ethiopian
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
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
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
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
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
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