Ethiopia - Addis Ababa
Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, is located at an altitude of 2,440m (8,000ft) in the central highlands, boasts a wealth of attractions.
Architectural splendour may present Addis Ababa as a historic city, but its throbbing streets and diverse population bring the Ethiopian capital alive and make for an enchanting visit.
Start with a trip to Addis Mercato, the largest open air market in Africa. It mainly sells fresh produce but the experience is in watching its commotion. Take your time over a traditional coffee (freshly ground by pestle and mortar, poured from a jebena) and witness the bustling people, bartering stall owners and bleating goats.
Quieter contemplation can be found at Addis Ababa’s historical monuments. The proud, poignant and needle-like Yekatit 12 commemorates the loss of Ethiopian lives following an Italian massacre while the statue of the Lion of Judah (once a symbol that adorned the national flag) sits resolutely outside the old railway station.
A millennia of Christianity make the city’s churches a must-do. Holy Trinity Cathedral is fabulously elaborate and the resting place of Haile Selassie, while the domes and arches of Bole Medhane Alem are equally as showy. Ethiopia’s royalty developed a taste for grandiose too - as a visit to both Menelik and the National Palace will prove.
Whether ducking into huts or sitting in stone courtyards, there is good food to be found across the city. Topped with various stews and salads, injera, the national dish is a source of pride and almost an obligation when eating out; away from the authentic there is an Italian influence and fine French restaurants with white tablecloths and suited-waiters. Like the city itself, the food in Addis Ababa is as enchanting as it is unexpected.