Capital City Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia, was founded in 1886 by Emperor Menelik II it is the largest city in Ethiopia, with a population of 2,738,248 according to the 2007 population census. It is the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union. Addis Ababa is therefore often referred to as “the capital of Africa”, due to its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the continent. More than 90 embassies and consulates.
Addis Ababa lies at an altitude of 2,300 meters. The city lies at the foot of Mount Entoto. From its lowest point, around Bole International Airport, at 2,326 meters above sea level in the southern periphery, the city rises to over 3,000 meters in the Entoto Mountains to the north.
Ethiopia has often been called the original home of humankind due to various humanoid fossil discoveries like the Australopithecine Lucy. The fossilized skeleton, and a plaster replica of the early hominid Lucy (known in Ethiopia as Dinkinesh) is preserved at the Ethiopian National Museum in Addis Ababa. Meskel Square is one of the noted squares in the city and is the site for the annual Meskel festival at the end of September annually when thousands gather incelebration.
The city is has much to offer to international visitors. It has magnificent museums, monuments, and cultural heritages. The major attracting museums include the National Museum, Addis Ababa Museum, Baata Museum, Entoto Museum, St. George Cathedral Museum, Ethnographic Museum and the Museum of Zoological Natural History. Some of the monuments are Emperor Meneliks Monument, Abune Petros Monument, etc. There are also palaces, churches and mosques worth visiting.
Is a city in northern Ethiopia which was the original capital of the eponymous kingdom of Axum. Axum was a naval and trading power that ruled the region from ca. 400 BC into the 10th century.
The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Aksum houses the Biblical Ark of the Covenant in which lies the Tablets of Law upon which the Ten Commandments are inscribed. This same church was the site Ethiopian emperors were crowned for centuries until the reign of Fasilides, then again beginning with Yohannes IV until the end of the empire. Axum is considered to be the holiest city in Ethiopia and is an important destination of pilgrimages. Significant religious festivals are the Timket Festival (known as the Epiphany in western Christianity) on 7 January and the Festival of Maryam Zion in late November.
The major Aksumite monuments in the town are stelae; the largest number lie in the Northern Stelae Park, ranging up to the 33-metre. The tallest standing is the 24-metre Another stele removed by the Italian army was returned to Ethiopia in 2005 and reinstalled July 31 2008.
Other features of the town include St Mary of Zion church, built in 1665 and said to contain the Ark of the Covenant, archaeological and ethnographic museums, the Ezana Stone written in Sabaean, Geez and Ancient Greek in a similar manner to the Rosetta Stone, King Bazens Tomb & other monasteries of fourth to six centuries. Due to their historical value, in 1980 UNESCO added Aksums archaeological sites to its list of World Heritage Sites.
This rural town is known around the world for its monolithic churches, which were built during the reign of Saint Lalibela (a member of the Zagwe Dynasty ruled Ethiopia from the end of the kingdome fo Axum to 1270) who ruled the Ethiopia in the 13th century. There are 11 churches, assembled in three groups. The eight wonder of the world: The Northern Group: Bete 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 Bete Maryam (possibly the oldest of the churches), Bete Golgotha (known for its arts and said to contain the tomb of King Lalibela).
During Lalibelas reign, the current town of Lalibela was known as Roha. “Lalibela” itself means “the bees recognise his sovereignty. Lalibela has always been a place of pilgrimage largly known in Ethiopia. The term primarily refers to the complex of eleven churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia believed to have been created in the 12th century, the most famous of which is the cross-shaped Church of St. George.
Gondar, former capital of Ethiopia. The city is situated in northwestern Ethiopia, 32 km north of Lake Tana, at an elevation of 2215 m. During unsettled periods between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, Ethiopian rulers moved their royal camps frequently. King Fasil (Fasiledes) settled in Gondar and established it as a permanent capital in 1636. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the fortress-city of Fasil Ghebbi was the residence of the Ethiopian emperor Fasilides and his successors. After Fasil, successive kings continued building, improving the techniques and architectural style. Before its decline in the late eighteenth century, the royal court had developed from a camp into a fortified compound called Fasil Ghebbi, consisting of six major building complexes surrounded by a wall 900 metres long. There are some twenty palaces and royal buildings and thirty churches in the area.
Fasil Ghebbi is included in the World Heritage List. The campaign also covers the royal Fasiledes Bath and the restoration of the celebrated painting in the Church of Debre Berhan Selassie.
The most famous buildings in the city lie in the Royal Enclosure, which include Fasilides castle, Iyasus Palace, Dawits Hall, a banqueting hall, stables, Mentewabs Castle, a chancellery, library and three churches. Near the city lie Fasiladas Bath, home to an annual Timkat (epiphany) ceremony where it is blessed and then opened for bathing; the Qusquam complex, built by Empress Mentewab; the eighteenth century Ras Mikael Sehuls Palace and the Debre Berhan Selassie Church which built by Emperor Eyasu II in the 17th Century. The walls depict biblical scenes and saints and the ceiling is covered with the faces of hundreds of angels.
Located on Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, Bahar Dar is an Ethiopian town with wide avenues of palms and flowers. Bahar Dars main attraction is the selection of Ethiopian Christian monasteries which are found on some 20 of Lake Tanas 37 islands. They can be reached by a convenient and fairly comfortable boat ride, which leaves regularly. Most of the Bahar Dar monasteries date from the 16th and 17th centuries and have changed little since their founding. They are simple huts decorated with colorful scenes from the Bible and lives of the saints. The Zege Peninsula is home to the Ura Kidane Mihret and Bet Maryam monasteries. The former is one of the most-visited of the monasteries.
Bet Maryam has an interesting museum/treasury.Another island is home to Kibran Gebriel, which can only be visited by men (female visitors will be taken to a different island monastery nearby). It also has an interesting museum, filled with old manuscripts, crowns and crosses. Considered One of the most sacred islands on Lake Tana, Daga Estifanos, the monastrie of Dek Stefanos has a priceless collection of paintings, icons and manuscripts, and houses the mummified remains of a number of Ethiopian emperor. Bahar Dars other star attraction, the Blue Nile Falls, is about an hours ride out of town.
ROCK HEWN CHURCHES OF TIGRAY
Over 125 rock hewn churches are recorded with Tigray-alone. These churches date from 4th-15th century. Most of them are visited around the Gera-Alta chained mountains. Others are found in eastern and southern Tigray. Abreha-We-Atsbeha, Wukro Chercko churches are hewn in the 4th century. There are some pre Christian period hewn templates too. Special programs can be arranged to visit the Tigray Rock Churches either on surface or camping even up to 2-3 weeks. Otherwise a two or three days addition to the classical route itineraries can be nice to pay a visit of these churches.
Abraha wa Atsbeha
The wonderful church of Abreha wa Atsebha is situated 15 kms.west of Wuqro. A newly built gravel road leads to within a few meters of the church and beyond to Hawzien via Degum.
The church is one of the best and largest of the rock churches of Tigray, dedicated to the famous kings of Axum, the brothers Abreha and Atsebha. They are known by that name to history, but they are said in Ethiopian legends to be kings who adopted Christianity in the 4th century. The historical king of Axum who did adopt Christianity around that time was king Ezana . His name is equally unknown in Ethiopian legendary accounts.
The church is cut into the red rock overlooking a valley, and stands out with its white painted façade sheltering two tall blue doors under arches. The church is decorated with splendid post-17th century mural paintings depicting Biblical scenes and saints. It also has several valuable treasures, the most important being the prayer cross which according to churchy officials, belonged to Frumentius- the first Bishop of Ethiopia whose ecclesiastical name was Abba Salama (Father of peace).
Directly a the edge of the small town of Wuqro (47 Kms from Mekele), on a knoll of red rock, is the rock- cut church of Wuqro Cherqos.The church is supposed to have been constructed by the 4 C by the two kings Abreha and Asbeha. It is one of the first of the rock churches of Tigray. The upper part of the wool and the ceilings were painted, but now much destroyed. Nevertheless, a good impression of the decoration can be gained. A number of scenes can be distinguished: cherubim and angles, the Abune Samuel, the Nine Saints, St. Qirqos. The priests tell the story that the church was burnet by Gudit, the distinctive queen who is supposed also to have toppled the Axum stelae.
Harar, The Fortified Historic Town is an eastern city in Ethiopia, and the capital of the modern Harari ethno-political division of Ethiopia. The city is located on a hilltop, in the eastern extension of the Ethiopian highlands about five hundred kilometers from Addis Ababa with an elevation of 1885 meters. For centuries, Harar has been a major commercial centre, linked by the trade routes with the rest of Ethiopia, the entire Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and, through its ports, the outside world.
Harar Jugol has been included in the World Heritage List in 2006 by UNESCO in recognition of its cultural heritage. According to UNESCO, it is “considered the fourth holy city of Islam” with 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century, and 102 shrines.
Harar was founded between the 7th and the 11th century and emerged as the center of Islamic culture and religion in the Horn of Africa. From Harar, Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi, also known as “Gragn the Left-handed,” launched a war of conquest in the sixteenth century that extended its territory and even threatened the existence of the Christian Ethiopian empire. His successor, Emir Nur ibn Mujahid, encircled the city with a wall, 4 meters high and with five gates. This wall, called “JEGOL”, is still intact, and is a symbol of the town to the inhabitants.