The world’s third highest capital, Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s gateway city with more than enough to keep visitors entertained for a day or two. The starting point of any tour of Ethiopia, Addis is a busy and vibrant city, one of Africa’s most interesting urban centres. The city houses the headquarters of the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and a host of NGOs and international bodies. The presence of such important international organisations has resulted in the establishment of a range of comfortable accommodation options and one of Africa’s most modern, hassle-free international airports.
Addis has a number of striking churches and cathedrals which are an excellent introduction for visitors heading north to the more famous sites on the popular Historical Circuit. Kiddist Selassie (Holy Trinity) Cathedral is the final resting place of the late Emperor Haile Selassie. The national museum is one of the best in Africa. Exhibits include the remains of “Lucy” – a 3½-million year old hominid - to artefacts from the Axumite and Gondarine periods. The Institute of Ethiopian Studies houses clothing from different regions along with artefacts, household utensils and, in a separate section, paintings reflecting the history and culture of the country.
Just outside the city is scenic Mount Entoto, the original site of the permanent camp established by Emperor Menelik II in 1881. At an elevation of 3,000m, Entoto commands sweeping views over the capital and surrounding countryside. Entoto was abandoned as in 1889 and the settlement moved down to where the city presently is. There are still the remains of the Imperial Compound, including the churches of Mariam and the Archangel Raguel.