Things To Do In Addis Ababa
The multi-ethnic society and customs in Addis Ababa go back more than 3,000 years. Today there are more than 80 dialects spoken among all the diverse gatherings of individuals, who fall into four significant groups; Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic, and Nilo-Saharan. Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia -- located in a hot and mountainous place with all kinds of wildlife. It is a modern city filled with high-rise apartment buildings and with a livelihood that is centered on tourism, cement-producing factories, textiles, and processed food industries.
When To Go:
Generally speaking, the city enjoys an average daytime temperature of 65-85 all year round. Temperatures do drop around evening time, now and then to almost freezing. Heavy rains are particularly experienced in July and August, when the very consistent clouds bring temperatures down somewhat.
The best time to go is during the summer months of October through March, when the days are regularly warm and humid, with no chance of any rain. The April to May period brings small downpours that can last from 5 days to 6 weeks. But although the showers might be substantial, they are short and won't really ruin any occasion during that period. May is a pretty damp month in Addis, but the real rainy season comes from June through September, when streams frequently overflow and mist may darken the clouds. In case you plan to visit, it is presumably best to avoid the heavy rain months, particularly d the months of July -August when the city has more rain than sunny days on its horizon.
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These are the places to see and things to do in the city of Addis Ababa:
Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum
The Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum is a very interesting museum in Addis Ababa, which recalls a dark period in Ethiopian history. This museum is free, and is a place where you learn a lot. The curator will guide you and give explanations for every item in each exhibition room. You will be enlightened about Ethiopia, and you will begin to understand what the people endured and suffered. There are two rooms devoted to the martyrs of the red terror of Mengistu, complete with photos and reconstructions of torture.
It is often referred to as the museum of human cruelty. All the exhibits are based on reports, photograph, original documents, and artifacts straight from the killing fields. A visit here should be obligatory for anyone visiting Addis Ababa, not only as a tourist attraction, but as an inspirational source for social awareness and historical information of the troubled years in Ethiopia. It is a good place to better understand the recent history and a solemn place to reflect on what this great country suffered during the time of the Derg revolution and time of famine (Ethiopian Civil War).
This small but historic museum opened in 2010 with well-marked exhibits and proper lighting. The exhibition is organized around some of the historic photographs and objects of Haile Selassie and the Derg members. However, the most memorable part of the museum is by far the ossuary that has the remains of several opponents of the communist regime and the stories of their families. Donations are required in lieu of the admission fee at the entrance gates. There is also an interesting souvenir shop that sells books and items about the revolution.
From Entoto Hill, it is possible to see the city of Addis Ababa and take some wonderful photos. The site is surrounded by greenery, and you will see peasants transporting wood and eucalyptus leaves in a very unusual manner. The real attraction on this mountain is the Church of Mary, and there is also a small museum with a few relevant pieces that tell much about the history of Ethiopia. Be sure to bring your own snack and drinking water because there are no shops or restaurants around this area. The Orthodox Church has so much to see and you can combine this with a visit to the Menelik Palace, where the views are excellent.
When you reach the top you find first the museum and the palace of Emperor Menelik II. There are also tombs and a watchtower on the hill. The Orthodox Church of Santa Maria was built by Menelik II when he was crowned emperor in 1889. The climb up the Entoto Hill is a pleasant experience, because there are beautiful views of the city if the clouds or the good weather permits. After climbing up from the road you can visit the church and the palace, but then you can also take long walks in the mountains. This hill is the green area closest to the city that allows pleasant walks -- and fresh air, so it is often called "the lungs of Addis Ababa." One is not bothered here by the usual beggars of Addis, but in the area you can witness the sad life of ladies who go down to the city loaded with eucalyptus branches and leaves. Be sure to stop at the colorful Entoto market after your trip up the hill.
Holy Trinity Cathedral
The Holy Trinity Cathedral is one of the most important churches in the city. It is surrounded by greenery and a well-tended garden. Ethiopia is a land where religion has an incredible importance and this church is one example of their great faith. The exterior of the Cathedral was built in eclectic style, and renovated in 1937. For a country that is eager for exoticism, the way the Africans built this church is very different. The interior welcomes you right away with its deep mystical essence; the priests and clerics march in procession with embroidered parasols and gentle waves of incense smoke that meander densely in the dim rays of light, running between the crowded aisles, chanting prayers and litanies, while the faithful pray.
It is a magnificent large cathedral that is surrounded by other points of interest that you can also visit, including the cemetery that surrounds the monument to the martyrs, and the museum. In the huge cathedral, you cannot miss (on the left side of the main altar) the chapel with marble mausoleum where Emperor Haile Selassie and his wife the Empress are buried. The cathedral is important because it was built by the emperor of the last century. It is interesting to visit the cemetery for the burial exhibit because of the sculptures representing the buried. There are opera singers, journalists, radio broadcasters (with headphones on) and the enormous tomb of the former prime minister who returned to Ethiopia after the rule of Emperor Haile Selassie. The museum is very interesting, rich in quality and quantity of religious articles, vestments, sacred books, royal crowns, etc. The downside is that while there is no problem in visiting the site, it is not easy to find the open cathedral, but the locals of Addis Ababa are very helpful when asked for directions about the location of the church.
St. George's Cathedral
The St. George's Cathedral is a beautiful church with an interesting story. For those who like history and stained glass windows this cathedral is a nice excursion. This cathedral is famous for its orthogonal architecture and stained glass made by the most famous artists of the country. It is worth checking the interior because the story of the church is told through its interesting paintings. The architecture is different from other Ethiopian churches you can find in the city. Be sure to attend the Holy Mass regardless of your religious affiliation because you will get to hear interesting musical instruments and an excellent choir during the ceremony.
The cathedral has a museum and an imperial throne on display. You can pause and admire the works of stained glass artist Afewerk Tekle -- one of the most celebrated artists and particularly known for his paintings of African and Christian themes as well as his marvelous stained glass skills. The cathedral and the museum that exists at the site are very interesting to see, and will help anyone to better understand everything about the Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity in the local version. Besides being a beautiful building, it is well maintained and there is a lovely garden where you can rest and admire the cathedral before visiting the museum, which is really worth a visit when in Addis Ababa.
Set aside at least three hours when you visit the Ethnological Museum, because there are lots of interesting pieces of ancient and recent history of Ethiopia, although some are poorly maintained. You can also watch some rare videos about traditional cultures of the South. You can understand the Ethiopian culture, the evolution of man and then suddenly find a dash of contemporary and traditional art when the next room comes with a beautiful exhibition of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
The museum (not to be confused with the National Museum of Addis Ababa) is located inside the university, which is surrounded by beautiful gardens. The palace was the seat of the first Italian governor under the fascism rule --when the assassination attempt on Graziani occurred. Just opposite is the so-called ladder of Fascism (one step for each year of the Fascists) on top of which the Ethiopians, (after the liberation) placed a small Lion of Judah. It is a very interesting and well-presented museum containing pieces from all regions of Ethiopia. It is also interesting to visit the accommodation of the Emperor and his wife. The museum offers a dramatic presentation in its image gallery of the fascist massacres and subsequent attack on Graziani.
At the National Museum you can find many things that will make you realize the vast ethnic diversity of the people of Addis Ababa and Ethiopia. The museum is essential for anyone who wants to understand the tastes and culture of the country. It is housed in a small building that contains a huge selection of objects from various periods ranging from the period of the hominids to the furnishings of the last emperor. In two caskets lie the remains of Lucy -- left there by accident.
It is quite sad to see one of the tests of Darwinism left there without any markers and sign of its important role in the theory of evolution. Obviously the highlight of the museum is the section of Paleontology with the fossilized remains of extinct creatures. The attraction is very central, spacious, well organized, comprehensive, and has a complete description of the various sectors located in a beautiful building. It is near a good local restaurant and you should go there in the morning so you can have lunch in the garden.
Entoto Maryam Church (Orthodox Church of St. Mary)
The Orthodox Church of St. Mary or the Entoto Maryam Church is located on Mount Entoto, north of Addis Ababa. This church, built by Emperor Menelik II, is where his coronation took place in November 1889. In the vicinity of the palace is a museum dedicated to Menelik II and his wife Taitu. There is also a great view over the capital city.
At the ascent to the peak of Mount Entoto, it is very common to see women carrying heavy bundles of firewood collected in the mountain and then sold on the local market in the lowlands. A visit is essential to admire the well-preserved frescoes. This church is an exceptional place so be sure to bring your camera to take beautiful photos of the church and the views of the city from this point.
Addis Ababa Merkato
Locals say the Addis Ababa Merkato is the largest market in East Africa. No one knows if this is true, but either way it's really great to roam around this market because it is divided into districts and according to the goods sold. You can find everything: food, appliances, auto parts, tailors, spices, antiques (or almost) and all in a jumble of stalls, people, vans, wheelbarrows and burritos. If you have something specific in mind, it is good to ask someone who can direct you to the right area or else you could spend hours! In general the market is colorful, safe, picturesque, and the people are friendly.
If you have a guide, you will not have any feeling of danger, although, just like any busy city anywhere, pay attention to your personal belongings. Wear comfortable shoes and bring your camera because this is an excellent opportunity to stay in contact with the locals, but be respectful of those who do not want to be photographed. If you are in Addis Ababa, it is worth spending a few hours wandering around in this local market and getting to know the people and their rich culture.
Matti Multiplex Theater
The Matti Multiplex Theater is one of the latest malls in Addis Ababa. This is the classic shopping center of the West -- filled with shops, fast food, games for the kids and especially the cinema. It is worth coming here if you spend a few days in the city. They have good titles for movies, all subtitled and in the original language. The cinema also has 3d cinemas and a modern food court.
The Lion Zoo is a place where not only lions can be seen, but also monkeys and other small animals. The Ferris wheel is a little rusty, but also worth the experience. The animals are in their natural habitat. The zoo is well maintained and there is no entrance fee in this zoo.
There are parks for children to play around and places to have a picnic with the family. There are six lions to meet here and you can even interact a little with them. Do not miss a visit to this zoo when in the city of Addis Ababa.
The Jams Addis is a great place to listen to good Reggae Music. The famous hangout place and restaurant has been recently opened and is meant to attract those who love to spend an evening listening to music and drinking a few drinks, maybe with friends. The customers are normally young people in Addis, but many foreigners who are in Addis for work or on vacation are discovering the place.
The best local bands play reggae music and there are evenings of Salsa. The performances begin around ten in the evening and the place is particularly crowded on weekends. In addition to cocktail drinks they also serve snacks at very cheap prices.
Kiddus Raguel Church
The Kiddus Raguel Church is a well-visited church with an elegant appearance. It is not listed in any guidebook, but a local can often be the best guide. It is easily accessible from the end point of the minibus heading to the Entoto summit and you must walk for about 30 minutes in the peaceful atmosphere that drifts along the way to church.
The highlight of this church is the little sanctuary that can be found under the new aisle which that through the congregation. Behind this church is where the Emperor Menelik the 2nd first read the holy book before moving his capital city down to its present position near the hot, warm springs of Addis Ababa that were highly cherished by his wife Queen Taitu.