Ethiopia: The Must Visit Heritages in Addis Ababa

Founded more than 130 years ago, Addis Ababa is the capital city of the Federal Government of Ethiopia as well as seat of various continental and regional organizations. Since its establishment, Addis Ababa is the seat of national governments, where 6 regimes, Emperor Menelik-II, Lij Iyasu, Empress Zewditu, Emperor Haileselase, Derg and the incumbent regime, FDRE seat.

The legacy of the regimes it hosted has left the city with about 440 historical heritages that are registered as tourist attractions. As a result the city is visited by more than 750 thousand tourists each year since 2015, according to Addis Ababa Culture and Tourism Bureau. "Ethiopia in general is a museum of History, and the capital Addis Ababa is also home to many natural, manmade and historical places and heritages" says Addis Ababa City Culture and Tourism Bureau Communication head Worku Mengesha.

Worku told Ethiopian Herald that a heritage is anything which indicates the identity of a given people with historic, cultural and natural values that may be spiritual or non-spiritual transmitted from generation to generation with some value to the new generation.

For a relic to be registered as heritage it has to pass through four requirements, Worku said. First it should be more than 100 years of age, second the heritage should be of special beauty and strength, third the materials used for the making of the heritage should be unique and fourth the role of the person who either built or used that heritage are the requirements to register as heritages, he elaborated.

Accordingly, more than 440 historical places/buildings have qualified to be registered as heritages in Addis Ababa, Worku explained. Of them, 17 Museums, 320 historic houses, Churches, caves, squares, 14 monuments, mosques and four palaces are the dominant ones.

The four palaces are the Entoto palace, where the inauguration of Emperor Menelik-II as king of kings was held and Genete Leul Palace of Emperor Haileslassie, which is now Ethnographic Museum found in Addis Ababa University main Campus, both open for tourists while Emperor Menelik-II Palace of Arata-Kilo, which is now serving as Office of the Prime Minster and the Jubilee Palace, now Presidential Palace. The first two are pen for visitors while the latter are not.

Worku stated that any tourist who sojourns in Addis Ababa must not fail to visit at least four of the large number of heritages namely: The National Museum, found in Amist-kilo, the Addis Ababa Museum, the Ethnographic museum/Genete Leul Palace, found in Addis Ababa University main campus and the Entoto palace. According to him these four places accommodate a significant portion of the history, culture and unique features of the entire nation.

"Comparing with the history, heritages and tourist attractions, Addis Ababa is not yet well-visited, but still, it is highly preferred for conference tourism as close to 2.3 million tourists have visited it only in the past 3 years", the communication affairs head said.

During the stated years the City has earned about close to 5.68 Billion USD from the sector. Worku further noted that the city's revenue during the last six months of the current fiscal year was more than 1.15 USD from over 417, 793 tourists.

According to Worku in 2017/18 fiscal year, Addis Ababa planned to earn more from the sector and favorable conditions are set to attract foreign tourists. Based on the plan Addis Ababa City Administration Culture and Tourism Bureau is working for the achievement of the goal by advertising, expanding tourist guide maps, keeping the safety and comfort of tourists collaborating with stakeholders and with investors in the sector.

To attract more tourists, the bureau has prepared documentary films per year using 5 languages, Amharic, English, French, Arabic and Germany about the suitability, conducive environment and tourist attraction places and heritages of Addis Ababa. The bureau is also member of ICASA, which helps to advertise heritages at international forums. Bureau also put 17 modern tourist guide maps in different parts of Addis Ababa, in places where more tourists expected to found.

For Worku, conserving and protecting heritages, caring guests and tourists are the duty of all of us; it is not only the responsibility of institutions. Specially, those invest in the tourism sector they have to give care their guests.

To protect the safety of heritages from damage, the bureau focuses on renovation of the old aged heritages and awareness creation to the people. The bureau has renovated various monuments and museums and will further uphold such conservation efforts.

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