Going all back to the beginning, where it all happened, ascending to the north 2,800 meters (9200 feet) leaving  the city behind until entoto mariam churchimmersed in a eucalyptus forest, you will be most welcomed by the fresh breath of Entoto.

This is how Entoto must have welcomed the King of Shoa, Menelik and his wife Taitu when at the 19th century they established their royal military camp.

Two churches were erected in the high hill of Entoto; one is St Mary whilst the other one devoted to the archangel saint Raphael.  Construction of the first church began in 1882 under the supervision of Taitu and craftsmen brought from Gondar.

Just prior to completion the St Mary church that took three years to finish, construction commenced on the church of the archangel Raphael.

With the octagonal church finished, Menelik  and Taitu fulfilled prophetic wish some isolated inhabitants who were awaiting the arrival of a king who would build two churches in their cold land of Entoto.

So cold and windy was the winter of 1886, that the royal couple descended the mountain in search of the thermal waters of the hot spring (Filwoha). The region called Finfine by its Oromo inhabitants was highly regarded for its water.

Taitu asked Menelik to authorize her to build a house in what she called Addis Ababa (the new flower). A house that has become the seed of the current capital of Ethiopia.

Addis new flowerAddis Ababa entered the 20th century with two focal points, the imperial palace and the church of Saint George with its attached Arada or urban market.

Throughout the last century, numerous progresses were made and are even made in the fields of infrastructure, education, communication, housing, and market hubs such as Mercato considered largest open air market in Africa.

Social and cultural centers are among the big booms the city is ever experiencing. Churches such as the holy trinity cathedral, the city hall, museums such as the National museum hosting the skeleton of Lucy are the marks of Addis you won’t like to miss out .

Addis Ababa is home to both the Africa union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. This has all led to be construction of comfortable and modern hotels and encouraged the creation of a wide network of restaurants (some with excellent cuisine and traditional entertainment) cafeterias, art galleries, bars, museums, and even a large modern shopping mall.

Mercato reveals the popular environment of the city’s tolerant, hospitable and smiling people who enjoy the hustle and bustle of the crowded streets and opportunities to bargain.

The sections for each trade, the little alleyways that are hardly wider than the width of three people (and usually crammed with more) lead into delightful tiny shops where one can discover colorful items, or intricate gold and silver jewelers, piles of spices, butter hanging slabs of meat, bags of spices, bags of vivid paint tints, metal hubcaps and beautiful aged handicrafts.

Though Addis still needs time to broaden and pave some of it avenues, to accommodate the amount of people and automobiles, it has all the spirit of a modern city. It is a city on the rise, yet its bustle has not driven out its charming hospitality.

Eskinder Hailu - Manager, Highway Tours

Eskinder Hailu
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