sometimes spelled Addis Abeba (the spelling used by the official Ethiopian Mapping Authority), is the capital city of Ethiopia. Founded in 1886, it is the largest city in Ethiopia, with a population of 3,384,569 according to the 2007 population census with annual growth rate of 3.8%. This number has been increased from the originally published 2,738,248 figure and appears to be still largely underestimated.
As a chartered city (ras gez astedader), Addis Ababa has the status of both a city and a state. It is where the African Union and its predecessor the OAU are 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” due to its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the continent.
Main articles: History of Addis Ababa and Timeline of Addis Ababa The site of Addis Ababa was chosen by Empress Taytu Betul and the city was founded in 1886 by Emperor Menelik II. Menelik, as initially a King of the Shewa province, had found Mount Entoto a useful base for military operations in the south of his realm, and in 1879 he visited the reputed ruins of a medieval town, and an unfinished rock church that showed proof of an Ethiopian presence in the area before the campaigns of Ahmad ibn Ibrihim. His interest in the area grew when his wife Taytu began work on a church on Mount Entoto, and Menelik endowed a second church in the area.
Ethiopia has often been called the original home of mankind due to various humanoid fossil discoveries like the Australopithecine Lucy. North eastern Africa, and the Afar region in particular was the central focus of these claims until recent DNA evidence suggested origins in south central Ethiopian regions like present-day Addis Ababa. After analysing the DNA of almost 1,000 people around the world, geneticists and other scientists claimed people spread from what is now Addis Ababa 100,000 years ago. The research indicated that genetic diversity declines steadily the farther one’s ancestors traveled from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The ruins of the ancient city of Aksum are located close to Ethiopia’s northern border. They mark the location of the heart of ancient Ethiopia, when the Kingdom of Aksum was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia. The massive ruins, dating from between the 1st and 13th centuries, include monolithic obelisks, giant stelae, royal tombs and the ruins of ancient castles. Long after its political decline in the 10th century, Ethiopian emperors continued to be crowned in Aksum.
Beginning around the 2nd millennium BCE and continuing until the 4th century CE there was immigration into the Ethiopian region. The immigrants came mostly from a region of western Yemen associated with the Sabean culture. Conditions in their homelands were most probably so harsh that the only means of escape was by a direct route across the Red Sea into Eritrea. By the 4th century, Aksum was already at its peak in land sovereignty, which included most of southern Yemen.
The city of Aksum emerged several centuries before the birth of Christ, as the capital of a state that traded with ancient Greece, Egypt and Asia. With its fleets sailing as far afield as Ceylon, Aksum later became the most important power between the Roman Empire and Persia, and for a while controlled parts of South Arabia. Aksum, whose name first appears in the 1st century AD in the Periplus of the Eritrean Sea, is considered to be the heart of ancient Ethiopia. Indeed, the kingdom which held sway over this area at this time took its name from the city. The ruins of the site spread over a large area and are composed of tall, obelisk-like stelae of imposing height, an enormous table of stone, vestiges of columns and royal tombs inscribed with Aksumite legends and traditions. In the western sector of the city there are also the ruins of three castles from the 1st century AD.
The earliest records and legends suggest that it was from Aksum that Makeda, the fabled Queen of Sheba, journeyed to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem. A son was born to the queen from her union with Solomon. This son, Menelik I, grew up in Ethiopia but travelled to Jerusalem as a young man, where he spent several years before returning to his own country with the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark, according to Ethiopian belief, has remained in Aksum ever since (in an annex to the Church of St Mary of Zion).
In addition to the old St Mary of Zion church, there are many other remains in Aksum dating back to pre- and early Christian times. Among these, a series of inscriptions on stone tablets have proved to be of immense importance to historians of the ancient world. They include a trilingual text in Greek, Sabaean (the language of South Arabia) and Ge’ez (classical Ethiopian), ordered by King Ezana in the 4th century AD, along with the 3,000-year-old stelae and obelisks. The standing obelisk rises to a height of over 23 m and is exquisitely carved to represent a nine-storey building in the fashion of the ‘tower-houses’ of southern Arabia
In a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia, some 645 km from Addis Ababa, eleven medieval monolithic churches were carved out of rock. Their building is attributed to King Lalibela who set out to construct in the 12th century a ‘New Jerusalem’, after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the holy Land. Lalibela flourished after the decline of the Aksum Empire.
The churches were not constructed in a traditional way but rather were hewn from the living rock of monolithic blocks. These blocks were further chiselled out, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, roofs etc. This gigantic work was further completed with an extensive system of drainage ditches, trenches and ceremonial passages, some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs. 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 12th century.
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 Christianity. 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.
Bahir Dar or Bahar Dar (Amharic: ባሕር ዳር, Baḥər Dar, “sea shore”) is a city in north-western Ethiopia. It is the capital of the Amhara Region (kilil). Administratively, Bahir Dar is a Special Zone, a designation in between a chartered city (astedader akabibi, a first-tier division, like a kilil) such as Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, and cities like Debre Marqos and Dessie, which are organized as districts (woredas).
Bahir Dar is one of the leading tourist destinations in Ethiopia, with a variety of attractions in the nearby Lake Tana and Blue Nile river. The city is known for its wide avenues lined with palm trees and a variety of colorful flowers. In 2002 it was awarded the UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize for addressing the challenges of rapid urbanization.
Bahir Dar’s origins date to at least the sixteenth or seventeenth century; Pedro Páez is credited with erecting several buildings in this city, one of which is “a solid, two-storey stone structure, with an outside staircase” and can be seen in the compound of the present-day Giyorgis church.
The next mention of Bahir Dar is from the mid-19th century, as the camping spot for the army of Emperor Tewodros II. Here his army suffered from cholera, forcing the Emperor to move his troops to Begemder. Despite the loss of life on the journey, by the time they reached Begemder, the army was free of the illness. Arthur J. Hayes spent a few days in Bahir Dar in early February 1903, which he described as a village surrounded by a marsh of papyrus plants; nearby were “two or three huts” inhabited by the Weyto, an ethnic group which were considered outcasts by the Amhara, yet “proud of their isolation.” Hayes also visited the local church, dedicated to Saint George, which was decorated with murals of the saint in combat and returned victoriously.
During the Italian invasion, an Italian column moved from Gondar on 23 April 1937 and, after a rapid march, occupied Bahar Dar. The city was bombed by the Royal Air Force on 21–22 October 1940, and although the action made little damage it was a boost to Arbegnoch morale. After months of skirmishing with the British advance, the Italian garrison under the command of Colonel Torelli was recalled to Gondar by General Guglielmo Nasi, and began to evacuate the city on 27 April 1941. One of Emperor Haile Selassie’s palaces was located near the city, and the Emperor considered moving the national capital to the town.On 15 June 1961 the Emperor inaugurated the new 226 meter-long highway bridge over the Abay, situated at about 3 km from Bahir Dar.
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 stele.
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.