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Historical Attractions2018-09-10T08:16:04+00:00

The name of the city, in Amharic, means “new flower”. Founded in 1886 by Menelik II, it is located at 2,500 m (8202 ft) above sea level in one of the highest parts of the Entoto Mountain chain (3,000 m/9842 ft above sea level). Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide avenues of jacaranda trees, interesting museums and one of the largest open-air markets in Africa, known as the “Mercato”.

Ethiopia’s most holy sites of Debre Libanos monastery (110km ADD) founded in the 13th century by priest Tekla Haimanot ,today one of Ethiopia’s most renowned saints. The church has beautiful Stained glass windows, and contains mosaic figures, which is found in the facade and some interesting mural paintings by the well-known Ethiopian artist Afework Tekele.

Lake Tana has thirty-seven islands, twenty of which are home to churches and monasteries. Some of them dated back to the 13th century and many others are dated from the 14th century to the Gonderine period of the 17th and 18th centuries. Many of the original churches of Lake Tana are said to be renovated and reconstructed during the Gonderine period.

Many of the churches and monasteries of Lake Tana are very famous cultural museums because of their beautiful mural paintings and many other valuable treasures such as varieties of crosses, crowns, costumes of Kings, illuminated manuscripts, mummified bodies and remains of several Ethiopia Emperors in wooden coffins and glass boxes. In addition, they have been used as the major refugees for many cultural treasures of the country in general and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in particular during the times of war and worse conditions in the history of the country like the devastating wars of Ahmed Gragn.

The historic Gonderine town is very popular mainly because of the marvelous castles in the royal enclosure. There are six graceful castles in the palace compound built by the successive Gonderine Kings of the 17th and 18th centuries. The tradition was first set by Emperor Fassiledes and then followed by his successors. The castle were built from local stone, hard dark brown basalt and red volcanic lava held together with lime mortar within the fortified royal compound at aboubt 70,000 square meters. The 12 symbolic entrances (gates) of the palace compound have various names and represent the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ.

For a large number of years in ancient time, Axum had been served as a political and religious center of Ethiopia. It was the capital of the Axumite Kingdome and considered as the first well-known permanent capital in the history of the country. It has still a considerable symbolic role for the Ethiopian church and state. During its long history, Axum greatly contributed too many human developments. It has been a repository of tremendous archeological and historical treasures including the steel, the rock-tombs, temples, the palaces, the stone thrones and others.

It is an important pre-Axumite archaeological site mainly known by the large square temple and dated to 500B.C. The temple was built using stone blocks without mortar, and is supposed to be the oldest building in Ethiopia. The ruins of the temple consist of a single roofless oblong chamber. The remaining one wall of the temple is still standing to a height of 12 meters. Many stone-carved inscriptions were also discovered in and around Yeha. They are most likely the earliest inscriptions that have ever been discovered in Ethiopia.

Debre Damo monastery is situated on an isolated mountain in northern part of Tigray. It is unique compared with most Ethiopian monasteries. Debre Damo was built, in the 6th century AD, with curved wood panels, painted ceilings and walls dedicated to the legend of Saint (Abune) Aregawi. The history of Debre Damo is centered on the “Nine Saints” who came to Ethiopia from Syria to spread Christianity in the Tigray region. One of them was Saint Aregawi who settled on the mountain of Debre Damo. The other eight saints settled around Tigray countryside and all have their own church named after them.

Debre Damo is only accessible by climbing up by a rope, which is made of “plaited leather”, lowered from the cliffs, which visitors tie around their waist and are then pulled up by a monk at the top of the cliffs. It is only accessible to men and male animals. Women and even female animals are forbidden to set a foot into the monastery, and must remain under the cliffs and pray from there.

It is a Muslim site in Wukro, considered by some believers as the first Isalmic settlement in Ethiopia. It is said to have been established in the 7th century following the coming of refugees (followers of Prophet Muhammd). In the site, there are tombs and recently constructed mosque. The tower of the mosque affords a nice view of the surrounding countryside.

Tigray is recognized as the cradle of the ancient Ethiopian civilization. The Yeha temple and the Axumite monolithic steleas testify to this. Numerous archeological sites underline the long history of the region, where the first Christian state in the world was established in the fourth century. Thus the old churches of Tigray are the testimony to this history.

The rock-hewn churches are a landmark achievement of church building in Ethiopia. Lalibela being the most famous, but so many others to be found in Tigray. Abreha Atsbeha is one of the outstanding rock hewn churches, found beautifully situated between Wukro and Hawzien. The spacious high barrel-shaped ceiling contains various artful ancient works of art.

The beginning of rock-cut churches in Ethiopia is dated to the 6th century by the Nine Saints. This rock-church tradition is associated with the birth and burial places of Jesus Christ, which were a cave in Bethelem and carved rock in Gologotha, respectively. In addition to this symbolic importance, churches were built from rocks perhaps for their physical durability and long-lasting.

Although the tradition of rock-hewn church excavation was started earlier in 6th century, it reached at its high level of development during the period of Zagwe Dyansty, particularly during the reign of King Lalibela in the 12th century. In this regard, the famous rock-hewn churches of Laiblea are best examples.

The prominent rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are eleven in number and situated in three groups separated by the seasonal river Jordan. Churches of the first group are believed to have been built first and are usually visited first by many of the tourists. They are Bete Medhane-Alem, Bete Mariam, Bete Mesekel, Bete Denagel, Bete Golgotha and Bete Debre Sina. Churches of the second group are situated south of the Jordan River and comprise Bete Gabriel, Bete Amanuel, Bete Merkorios, and Bete Abba Libanos. In the third group, there is only one isolated church i.e Bete Giorgis. It is located a few minutes walk to the south west of both the first and second group of churches.

Ankober was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Shoa, with Merid Azmatch Amha Iyesus (1745-1775), a ruler descended from the Solomonic dynasty, credited as being the founder. His descendents ruled from Ankober for around a hundred years and a number of Shoan rulers are buried in churches in the area.

During the reign of Emperor Menelik II, Britain, France and Italy established diplomatic missions in Ankober, and the sites of their missions can still be distinguished. Menelik married Itegue Taytu at the Ankober Medhane Alem Church, where the golden wedding cloak is still kept. In 1886 Menelik decided to move the capital to its current location, Addis Ababa.

There are many famous Ethiopian Orthodox monasteries and churches in the area surrounding Ankober, including Mantiq a nearby monastery with Judeo-Christian traditions. The nineteenth century Catholic missionary, Aba Massayas, started missionary activities in neighboring Fiqre Gimb, making the area one of the most important historical centers of Catholicism in Ethiopia.

Ankober Palace hill overlooks the spectacular scenery of the Rift Valley, stretching from the Red Sea to the plains of Afar Region.

Harar was established by Sultan Abu Beker Mohammed in 1520. Harar, the Holy City of Ethiopia’s Muslim community, is believed to be the forth-holiest city after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The old City Wall of Harar is the main attraction and symbol of Islamic architecture. Harar has approximately 90 mosques, which form the largest concentration of mosques in the world. One of Harar’s main attractions is the hyena man who feeds hyenas on the outskirts of the town every night.