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A Day in Addis Ababa

By: Cityseeker
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Filwoha Springs

Filwoha in Amharic means boiling water. This was the destination for Empress Taitou and the royal court when Menelik II established his base of power in the Entoto Mountains. As the Empress spent more time here, she built a small home nearby and also established a church. The small home eventually became the National Palace, and the church eventually became Holy Trinity Cathedral. The hot springs are still open to the public. Visitors might want to take advantage of the public baths and massage center at the Filwoha Hotel attached to the springs.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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National Theatre

Famous for the black stone statue of the Lion of Judah that towers above it, the National Theatre has been in operation since the time of Emperor Haile Sellasie. Located in the heart of Addis Ababa, the theater continues to play an important role in the cultural life of the city, presenting popular plays, music and traditional dance every day of the week. Performances are often sold out so booking in advance is essential.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Historic Le Gare Railway Station

The Ethiopian-Djibouti Railway opened in 1917, securing the importance of the city as a connector to the modern world. The original station - very quaint and straight out of the 19th Century - is no longer in use but continues to play an important role in Addis as a landmark and major transit hub to many parts of the city.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Mausoleum of Menelik II

This magnificent piece of architecture was built in 1913 to house the tomb of Emperor Menelik II (1844-1913). An active church, the mausoleum is also the final resting place of Empress Taitou (1851-1918), Menelik II's wife, and Empress Zauditu (1876-1930), who ruled Ethiopia after her father's death. Still in use as a church, the mausoleum temporarily held the remains of Emperor Haile Selassie after they were recovered in 1990. High up on the hill that overlooks the city, two lion statues guard each entrance to the mausoleum.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Beata St. Mary Museum

Pleasantly situated to the east of Menelik's Mausoleum under the shade of a thick eucalyptus forest, this building was erected in 1911 on the orders of Queen Zauditu, the daughter of Menelik II. It was originally intended to be her father's tomb, but the Queen later changed her mind and decided it should serve as a church instead. In the underground crypt rest the remains of Queen Zauditu, her father and her stepmother Empress Taitu. The upper floor is now home to the Be'ata St. Mary Museum, one of the city's major attractions. It is famous for the fascinating wall paintings by well-known Ethiopian artist Aleka Mezgebu. The museum also has a collection of historical objects such as the chair Menelik used while attending Mass, a golden cross that belonged to Abune Kerlos of Alexandria, and a prayer stick of Queen Zauditu.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Saint Gabriel Cathedral

The expansive park grounds of Saint Gabriel Church is an extension of the original grounds of the Imperial Palace. Within the domed church are elegant paintings of the saints. Behind the church stands the Saint Gabriel Museum, which includes several exhibits about the royal family and 20th Century history. The Mausoleum of Menelik II also sits with the grounds of the Cathedral.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Trinity Cathedral

This is the biggest and second most important cathedral of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The cornerstone was laid in 1928 with the blessing of Empress Zauditu. The extensive construction was completely stopped during the exile of Emperor Haile Selassie during the Italian Occupation, but began again promptly when he returned in 1941, finishing in 1942. The cathedral's huge frame is an architectural masterpiece and boasts an illustrious history. The cemetery is the final resting place of Ethiopian heroes and personalities - even Sylvia Pankhurst, the British feminist who became an advocate for Ethiopian independence during the Italian Occupation. The main entrance to this important cathedral was closed off for many years during the Communist Derg regime. The tearing down of the barrier wall that had kept the faithful away was a major event that heralded freedom of religion.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Saint George's Cathedral

Built by Emperor Menelik II to commemorate his victory over the invading Italians in the Battle of Adwa in 1896, Saint George's Cathedral is dedicated to Ethiopia's patron saint. The octagon-shaped cathedral's distinctive dome can be seen for miles around. Its architecture is a blend of the European and Ethiopian styles, and the interior of the ornately carved structure features beautiful stained glass work. The cathedral was also the sight of the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1930 and remains a major pilgrimage destination for Rastafarian followers. Prominent other features of the church include artwork by celebrated Ethiopian artist Afewerk Tekle. The museum within the cathedral compound is also well worth a visit.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Saint George's Cathedral Museum

This museum is the starting point to join in a tour of the Saint George Cathedral, built to celebrate the victory of Ethiopia over Italy in the Battle of Adwa. Both Empress Zaudito and Emperor Haile Selassie were crowned at the cathedral. The museum houses exhibits that include the finery used in those coronations, as well as the widest collection of Ethiopian religious objects outside of Axum.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Makush Gallery & Restaurant

The restaurant is a popular meeting place for drinks and meals with friendly and attentive service. The gallery hosts a rotating show of Ethiopian modern art worth coming to see even without the fine Italian menu.

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National Museum

Ethiopia is the territory where millions of years of human evolution took place. The National Museum is the proud home of the world's most incredible anthropological finds, whose major star is Lucy, the 3 million year old, three and a half foot tall hominid Australopithecus Africanus, ancestor of modern humans. The museum doesn't shine with Lucy's star alone, among its world-class collection are thousands' of years of human artifacts, early tools and jewelery through the ages.

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Merkato

Famous for being the biggest open air market in Africa, the Merkato is located in the western part of Addis Ababa. If you have the patience and energy, you can find anything from clothes to food items to heavy machinery spare parts. There are two huge adarash (halls) with hundreds of stalls selling clothes and shoes in a bazaar-style setting. There is usually many a bargain to be found here. Keep walking to find distinct markets within the market, including a camel market and one of the biggest selling hubs for coffee in the world. With such a crush of things to see, buyers and sellers, visitors are advised to leave all their valuables stowed away in their hotel as pickpockets are rife. The busiest day at the Merkato is Saturday, however any day of the week there will be plenty to see.

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