With a population of more than three million peo- ple, Addis Ababa is not only the capital of Ethiopia but also the seat of the African Union and the United Nations Economic commission for Africa.
Founded by Emperor Menelik in 1887 around hot springs, where Empress Taitu enjoyed the hot springs and gave the name Addis Ababa (“new flower” in Amharic), this hospitable city is situated in the foothills of the 3,000 meters Entoto Mountains and rambles pleasantly across many wooded hillsides and gullies cut through with fast flow- ing streams. The Entoto Mountains can also give a visitor a panoramic view of the capital and visit the rock hewn church of Washa Mikael.
The city has some interesting museums, churches, and markets to offer. Some of them are the National archeological museum with Lucy, oldest human skel- eton, the Ethnographic museum and Institute of Ethiopian studies with Em- peror Haileselassie’s palace, Merkato- the largest open air market in Africa and the Trinity Cathedral with the tombs of Emperor Haileselassie and his wife.
Ethiopia’s most ancient city, and the capital of the historic Axumite state is the site of a number of remarkable monolithic stone stelae/obelisks, each carved from a single huge piece of granite rock. The three most important are chiseled to represent multi-storied buildings, complete with doors and windows.
Axum, in its day, was a great commercial center, issuing its own currency, and trading with Egypt, Arabia, Persia, India, and even Ceylon. The settlement was also the site of Ethiopia’s oldest church-St. Mary Zion- which dated to the early fourth century.
There is a monastery erected on the original site by Fasiladas in the early 17th century and nearby is a modern chapel where the Original Ark of the Covenant is kept and guarded by a solitary monk. Axum is also a site for the ‘Palace of the Queen of Sheba’ and tombs of some of the Axumite Kings. It is a World Heritage site registered by UNESCO in 1980.