Sights & Landmarks

Sights & Landmarks in Addis Ababa

If you walk along the road from Meskel Square to Sidest Kilo, you'll probably find it quite entertaining and interesting. You'll see the Africa Hall, the palaces and the Parliament building, the Hilton Hotel, the marvellous architectural adventure of a building hosting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Sheraton Hotel, the first modern school (which Emperor Menelik II built in the 1880s), the Trinity Orthodox cathedral, the National Museum, and the Addis Ababa University (which hosts a former palace and museum).

Arat Kilo Avenue is marked by a statue built in commemoration of the Ethiopian day of victory during the Second World War, while Sidest Kilo Avenue is marked by a statue commemorating some 39,000 residents of Addis Ababa killed by Italian fascist troops. Around Arat Kilo, you will find part of an old town known as Serategna Sefer (literally, the residential area of labourers).

If you go past Sidest Kilo, the road becomes steeper and many of the attractions will be on the right side of the road. The Entoto college (previously Teferi Mekonnen School) and the US Embassy are on this side of the street. After the Embassy there's an open market called Shiro Meda where traditional craftsmen sell their homemade fabrics, pots and other craftwork. The marketplace is at the foot of the Entoto Mountains, which rise up to 3,300 m (10,827 ft) above sea level.

You can take a taxi or a bus to the mountain unless you are of a mind to try it yourself. On the mountain, you will find the first churches of Addis Ababa, called Saint Mary and Saint Raguel, and a smaller palace of Menelik II. Walking the mountain, especially between the churches, is refreshing and gives the chance to see rural life, the city, forest and unbelievably beautiful landscape intersected by farmlands and farmers trails. It is from here that Menelik II and Queen Taitu conceived the establishment of Addis Ababa. You can get a sense of the city plan by viewing the city from here.

Churches and mosques

  • Anwar MosqueMercato district. It's quite impressive.
  • Gola Saint Michael Churchcity centre (next to the Federal immigration office). Very interesting place and one of the many old churches in Addis Ababa. One can see old paintings by many Ethiopian celebrity artists. Has a museum displaying church articles given by many famous people of the country including the emperor Haile Selassie and his Empress.
  • Holy Trinity Cathedraloff Niger St. 08:00-13:00, 14:00-18:00; museum: 08:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00. It was built to commemorate the country's liberation from the Italians, and many victims killed by the Italians during occupation are buried here. The locals call the church Haile Selassie Church because Emperor Haile Selassie's body was moved here in 2000. It was once the largest Ethiopian Orthodox cathedral. Includes a small museum. Shoes must be left outside.
  • Medhane Alem (near Bole International Airport). This cathedral, whose name means "Saviour of the World", is the second largest church in Africa.
  • Roman Catholic Cathedral of NativityWawel St, Mercato district
  • St George's Cathedralnorth end of Churchill Rd (north-west side of Menelik Sq).Museum: 09:00-12:00, 14:00-18:00. Built in 1896 to commemorate Ethiopia's victory over the Italians. The cathedral is a octagonal building. As you walk around it, you will notice people praying beside the walls, but it is unlikely that you will find an entrance. The Cathedral houses a small museum and close to it you will likely meet one of the archdeacons of the Cathedral. If he offers to be a guide, take his offer and visit the Cathedral with him. The interior is beautifully decorated with huge paintings and mosaics, and will make the trip worthwhile. It is worth visiting the museum with a guide as well to see ceremonial clothes and ancient manuscripts.


  • Africa Hall (located across Menelik II Avenue from the Palace).This is where the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa is headquartered as well as most UN offices in Ethiopia. It is also the site of the founding of the Organization for African Unity (OAU) which eventually became the African Union. Security is tight and you won't be admitted unless you have an appointment.
  • Tiglachin ("Our Struggle") monument. Sometimes erroneously called Derg Monument, which Ethiopians find offensive because it is not a monument to honour the Derg regime. This massive statue monument was built in the 1980s. The sides have a tribute to Ethiopian and Cuban soldiers who died in the 1977-1978 war against Somalia. If you want to take pictures, there is a guy asking for a small fee.
  • Ethiopian National Library.
  • Lion of Judah of Menelik (near the former railway station).Commemorates Emperor Menelik. It was erected in 1930 and looted by the Italians a few years later. It remained in Rome for 30 years before being returned in the 1960s.
  • Lion of Judah of Haile SelassieGambia St (outside the National Theatre). A carved statue commemorating the silver jubilee of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1955.
  • Menelik's old Imperial Palace. It remains the official seat of government.
  • National Palace. Formerly known as the Jubilee Palace, built to mark Emperor Haile Selassie's Silver Jubilee in 1955, which is the residence of the President of Ethiopia. Taking pictures is prohibited and even pausing to peer over the wall will attract security.
  • Netsa Art Village. Authentic and interesting art in a beautiful park across from the French Embassy. 3 birr entrance. 20 birr for cameras.
  • Parliament Building (Near Holy Trinity Cathedral). Built during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie, with its clock tower, it continues to serve as the seat of Parliament today. Photography is prohibited.
  • Shengo Hall. Built by the Derg regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam as its new parliament hall. The Shengo Hall was the world's largest pre-fabricated building, which was constructed in Finland before being assembled in Addis Ababa. It is used for large meetings and conventions.

Ethiopia - Travel guide


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