From the earliest-known human to Africa’s most significant marketplace, Addis Ababa is packed with remarkable sights.
Many travelers miss Ethiopia’s sprawling capital city intending to use it as a gateway to the famous northern circuit of the country. If they do, they are at risk of missing one of the continent’s most rapidly developing cities and a principal city of culture and cuisine, with the most renowned places to eat, visit, and experience in the nation. Culture Trip spoke to Addis expert Xavi Curtis from Go Further Tours to pick the top tips for discovering the largest city in Ethiopia.
1. National Museum of Ethiopia
A plain concrete-block structure surrounded with a simple sign at first glance, it’s challenging to think that Ethiopia’s National Museum holds perhaps the continent’s most significant discovery. Enter Lucy, a 3.2-million-year-old hominid fossil. It was discovered in 1974 within Ethiopia’s remote Northwestern Afar region. The fossils are believed to be belonging to one of humanity’s earliest living relatives. This entire area is dedicated to the tale of Lucy and her discovery, as well as the more prominent topic of evolution in humankind. Alongside two plaster casts of Lucy (the original fossils are preserved for future use), the remains of Selam, an infant hominid thought to predate Lucy over 100,000 years ago, are displayed as well.
2. Meskel Square
Part historical monument and part unofficial sports center, Meskel Square in Addis Ababa’s most recognizable landmark. On any particular day, runners will be seen running along the 600m steps that are terraced, jogging in relative tranquility amid the bustle of the city’s center. A semi-amphitheater rather than a square and also the venue to host Meskel Festival. Meskel Festival, a yearly celebration of the crucifixion. A large crowd gathers here on 27 September (17 Meskerem according to the Ethiopian calendar) to participate in the torchlight procession and witness the massive bonfire that is part of the event. Evening or early in the morning, the square overviews life in Addis’s sprawling urban sprawl. It’s also within walking distance to The African Jazz Village, the Red Terror Martyrs’ Memorial, and the Oromo Cultural Center.
3. Fendika Azmari Bet
After years of repression during the Derg era, Ethiopia’s captivating jazz scene is resurfacing across Addis Ababa. The genre began to flourish in the 1960s, as pioneers like Mulatu Astatke combined the distinctive tonal scales and tonal palettes characteristic of Ethiopian traditional music with Western jazz concepts and Latin rhythms. The result was Ethiojazz. The heart of nightlife in the city, there are only a few dedicated jazz clubs remain. Its popularity is increasing among the younger generations, and it’s not difficult to find live jazz at any time of the week. Try Metro at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Office Bar at the Sheraton Hotel, and Fendika Azmari Bet, Kazanchis (most Mondays and alternate Fridays).
This is the largest outdoor market. It seems more like a temporary village than a center for commerce. In the last time, we checked more than 7,000 vendors were selling their goods from the sprawling market in Ketema. With its bustling crowd of people changing, honking vehicles, and numerous herds of livestock and livestock, a trip to Merkato is an overwhelming attack on the senses for anyone new to the city. There’s no problem for buyers and traders even though it’s like a free market to all the stalls organized according to products. Fresh fruits and vegetables as well as coffee beans and Jebenas (Ethiopian cups of coffee) and aromatic spices and huge grain sacks that are bursting with grain as well as bright shawls and knock-off clothes; and household goods and recycled items occupy their own spaces in the chaos. The market is notorious for pickpockets, petty theft, and even robbery, So a guided tour is the best way to travel.
5. Ethnological Museum
If you are interested in exploring Ethiopia beyond Addis, it is recommended that the Ethnological Museum is an essential stop. It is located in Haile Selassie’s old palace, on the grounds of Addis Ababa’s primary university. The museum offers an in-depth review of Ethiopia’s diverse culture. The museum’s most extensive and most significant exhibit opens at the top of its first level. The production is divided into three sections of the human lifespan and a variety of displays. They provide information on Ethiopia’s various ethnic characteristics, cultural practices, traditions, and customs through childhood, adulthood, and death. Other essential shows focus on music and religious art as well as traditional instruments. The room that Haile Selassie preserved is worth checking out.