24 Hours in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, is a coalescence of old and new; monuments, museums and ancient markets contrast with the bustling nightlife and the fact that Addis Ababa is the central hub to Africa as it houses the headquarters of the African Union. There is so much to do and see; from discovering the first human known as Lucy to browsing the market. Walking through the city is a delight in itself, as Mount Entoto provides a handsome backdrop.
Find a café anywhere to drink Ethiopian coffee
When walking through the streets of Addis Ababa, you’ll soon realise that most cafés and restaurants sell coffee. This is a normal thing wherever you are in the world; however, Ethiopian coffee is renowned for its smooth yet wonderfully strong earthy taste, so grabbing a coffee is a definite must. Traditional Ethiopian coffee owns its taste to the fact that it is ground by hand using a mortar and pestle, then brewed in a ‘jebena’, or a clay pot.
Head to Meskel Square; as the centre of the city, this is a good place to start. Locals gather here and many events are held in the square. Although there’s not much to see if there is not an event being held, being so central lets you find your bearings and decide where to go next. It’s also nice to experience the public interacting with each other when you first arrive in a place.
National Museum of Ethiopia
Just a short walk from Meskel Square is the National Museum of Ethiopia. With four exhibition sections, there is a large array of interesting exhibits on display. The second floor shows a range of contemporary and traditional Ethiopian art; the first floor is where you’ll fine Emperor Haile Selassie’s wooden throne, among other objects from earlier rulers and the medieval period. The basement is home to archaeological wonders such as the first human, Lucy.
Referred to as the ‘lung of Addis Ababa’, Mount Entoto boasts wonderful views of the city and stands at a colossal 3200 metres above sea level. It has so much history too; Emperor Menelik II built his palace on the peak of Mount Entoto when he founded the city – then there’s the beautiful eucalyptus trees that line the mountain – hence the nickname of the ‘lung’.
Holy Trinity Cathedral
The Holy Trinity Cathedral is a wonder to behold; it is adorned with intricately designed stained glass windows, statues and domes. The inside of the cathedral itself is decorated with famous paintings such as Afewerk Tekle’s Holy Trinity, and marble thrones. Visitors flock here not only because of the beauty, but also because it is the final resting place of Emperor Haile Selassie; for a small entrance fee, you can see the interior of the building, the Emperor’s tomb and a museum that holds many interesting artefacts.
If there is one thing that you do besides indulging in the best Ethiopian coffee whilst in Addis Ababa, it has to be visiting the hectically crowded but lively market known as ‘Addis Mercato’. There you will experience all walks of life, from farmers with their livestock to stalls selling food, spices, clothes, or tourists and locals milling about in search of an item or just an authentic African market experience.
Statue of the Lion of Judah
Situated in front of the old railway station in Addis Ababa, the statue of the Lion of Judah depicts Ethiopian pride and is one of the many quirks of visiting Addis Ababa. Should you wish to take a walk through the city, make sure you drop by the statue to take in its majesty.