The capital city of the proud nation of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is filled with warm people who live in a unique culture briefly kissed by the influences of occupying European forces in the past century. The mark Italy left after they were driven from the country is still evident all around the city, especially in monuments, architecture, and cuisine. Ethiopian Airlines is your guide to this gorgeous African city filled with history and warmth!
A longstanding symbol of Ethiopia’s monarchy, the Lion of Judah has had a turbulent history since its creation in the 1930s. The lion was constructed in honor of the King of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, just before Italy invaded the country. Mussolini’s Fascist regime was eager to reclaim glory after their defeat in the First Italo-Abyssinian War, and stormed the country in the mid-1930s. The League of Nations gave Italy a lukewarm reprimand for its actions, and the soldiers pillaged the country for monuments they could send back to Italy. They found the Lion of Judah and shipped it back to Rome, where it stayed throughout World War II, until Italy sent it back in the 1960s. Today the lion stands for the fortitude of Ethiopia against tyranny and persecution, and stands proudly in Addis Ababa, where visitors from all over the world come to gaze upon it.
Commissioned by Emperor Menelik II in 1896 after the defeat of the Italians in the First Italo-Abyssinian War, St. George Cathedral is both a church and a museum. The Cathedral was completed in 1911 and is oddly shaped as an octagon. Many people kneel to pray at the exterior of the Cathedral instead of going inside, which is a direct contrast to the outside. The interior of the church is colorful, with pale blue ceilings, gilded stars, and mosaics from renowned local and European artists, including Greek, Armenian, and Indian artists. Right next to the Cathedral is the museum, and if you’re having a lucky day, you might get a tour from one of the archdeacons themselves. The museum hosts exhibits of crowns, scepters, crosses, scrolls, and royal coronation robes.
One of the largest markets in Africa, the Merkato is a charmingly eclectic blend of open stalls and tin-roofed shops, arranged so different “regions” of the market sell certain goods. The market is filled with spices, handcrafted wooden pieces, metal goods, and local fabrics. Haggling and bargaining are the order of the day, and you can easily find some of the most unique souvenirs and gifts here. Make sure to check out the “recycled market”, where you can see sandals made from tires or coffee pots constructed from Italian olive cans.
The largest and most ornate cathedral in the city, the Holy Trinity Cathedral is the final resting place of the last Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, and his wife, Empress Menen Asfaw. The domes of the Cathedral are constructed from bronze, blending with the multicultural construction of the church. The interior is filled with Biblical murals and gorgeous stained-glass windows, as well as two empty imperial thrones carved from marble, white ebony, and ivory. The cathedral also houses its own museum of ecclesiastical items and artifacts, and the churchyard houses many who died protesting and fighting the Italian occupation.
Once the sun goes down, Addis Ababa has amazing watering holes to offer the visitor looking to kick back. From heart-pumping parties with famous DJs spinning to relaxing cafes and pubs, Addis Ababa has a nightlife spot for everyone. If you’re looking to dance the night away, consider Tam-Tam’s, Divine, and Club Deep, all specializing in bass-heavy music and wide dance floors. For those looking to sit back and enjoy a beer or cocktail, consider the Beer Garden, Mask Bar, The Black Rose lounge, and Meda Sports Bar and Grill.
For more information on Addis Ababa and Ethiopian Airlines, visit them online at www.ethiopianairlines.com.