The sprawling, noisy, bustling capital of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is home to the African Union, and is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. It is Ethiopia in microcosm, with the old and the very new standing side by side.
First stop for visitors should be the Ethnological Museum on Algeria Street, set among the beautiful gardens and fountains of Addis Ababa University main campus. The ethnic diversity of the country is well illustrated here with exhibits showing the cultural, religious and linguistic range of the different groups. The building itself was Haile Selassie's former palace.
The National Museum is also a must for visitors. Located on George VI Street, with its historically important palaeontology section with a plaster cast of Lucy, the oldest and most complete hominid ever found from more than three million years ago. There are also exhibits of ethnic and religious art, weaponry, and archaeology. Although the museum is poorly laid out and labeled, there are English speaking guides available.
The "Red Terror" Martyrs Memorial Museum on Meskal Square is one for strong stomachs and emotions. It charts the savage and ruthless nature of "The Derg," the regime that came to power following Haile Selassie's removal. The Derg established a Communist government and no dissenting voices were tolerated. The museum honors those that were "disappeared" or executed during the thirteen years of Derg rule that spanned the seventies and eighties, with incredibly moving displays of photos, possessions, and remains of those that suffered.
Two huge cathedrals are worth a visit, too. Holy Trinity Cathedral of Niger Street is a monster of a building opened in the mid-twentieth century. It is built in a mixture of styles, with beautiful murals, statues, and stained glass windows. St. George Cathedral and Museum is on Fitawrari Gebeyehu Street, and was constructed between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Budget travelers have a couple of options for hostels in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which can be found in the east of the city around the Yeka and Goro districts. The hostels in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, are helpful in arranging various tours of the city and for organizing transport around the country or for meeting up with other like-minded travelers.
You either love Addis or hate it, but you have to dive into it at some point if you're traveling in Ethiopia, so just go with the bustling flow and see what happens!
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