Addis Ababa: Heart of a Great City
While in Addis Ababa, we stayed for one week at the HIlton Addis and were made very welcome by the magement and staff. During our stay in Addis, we visited many of the attractions mentioned below, including a trip south to the Rift Valley, Crater Lakes, Debrazeit, Nazaret and the Hot Springs Resort. This section provides interviews on properties we have visited, plus profiles, business cards and listings.
The Hilton Addis Ababa stands 12 stories high and was opened in 1969 by Emperor Haile Selassie. Together with the Garden Wing Extension completed in 1987, the complex offers a total of 402 rooms. The architectural design is based on the Lalibela Cross which comes from one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ethiopia that is considered the 8th wonder of the world.
Addis Ababa in Amharic means "New Flower" and the city was established in 1886 by Emperor Menelik II on the 8,000 ft. high Ethiopian Plateau, thus reaping the advantages of an excellent temperate climate in spite of being only 8 North of the Equator. The hotel is ideally situated for exploring Addis Ababa, the capital and geographical center of Ethiopia. The airport, point of entry for almost all tourists, is only seven kilometers away.
The National Palace, across from the Hilton Addis Ababa, was built in 1955. Opposite the Palace stands the Economic Commission for Africa, the focal point of which is the new state of the art conference center which has been added recently. The economic Commission for Africa was constructed to advance the forces of progress and unity within Africa and to symbolize Ethiopia's role in modern African affairs. Coptic churches of interest within very close proximity are Stefanos church, a modern Coptic church, the Trinity Cathedral and St. George Cathedral, built in Octagonal styles of Ethiopian churches and containing remarkable mural paintings.
St. George Cathedral is where Haile Selassie was coronated. The focal point for the Moslem community is the Grand Mosque, where tall minarets bring a particularly Eastern touch to the market place. Numerous antiquities and vast historical relics can be seen in the National and Ethnological museums. (Photo: Coffee ceremony in Hilton lobby) Other attractions include the grand market or
Mercato, the world's largest open air market where there is an endless array of goods, exotic fruits and spices, swords and leather shields, colorful basketry, lovely embroidery costumes, icons, and most of all the famous intricate coptic crosses worked in silver and wood. Bargaining is part of the market experience with much good-natured banter between merchant and buyer as each seeks one another's "last price".
Crater Lakes and Hot
Springs: Day excursions can be made to the lovely vistas and
interesting old churches of mount Entoto and to several spa
resorts featuring hot spring mineral baths and swimming
pools such as Sodore and the crater lakes of
Debrezeit. Ethiopia's natural beauty is at its most
lovely on the full day's drive to the Blue Nile gorge and
Debre Libanos. Further afield to the south, the Rift Valley
Lakes provide weekend resorts for the residents of Addis
Ababa. On the eastern edge of the Ethiopian plateau lies the
old Moslem walled city of Harar which has reputedly
the best climate in Ethiopia with mild rainfall and dry air.
It is also a fascinating spectacle of color, especially in
the famous market place, where the women wear long,
brilliantly colored velvet trousers, their braided hair tied
with long wisps of gauze scarves and ornamental jewelry. A
mountain road leads to the neighboring city Dire-Dawa.
Hotel Features: Since its opening, the Hilton Addis Ababa has become a vital centerpiece for both the local and expatriate community as well as the many business and vacation travelers visiting the capital. Among the sport and relaxation options offered are the thermally heated cross shaped swimming pool, four tennis courts including one with flood lighting for evening play, men's and women's saunas where one may also experience a relaxing massage, a squash court, mini golf and a putting green with driving net and bunker.
Hilton Addis Ababa offers its guests numerous options in dining and entertainment pleasure. Fine venues include, the Kaffa House, modeled after an American style coffee shop with Ethiopian decor. The Harar Grill features Ethiopian culinary and cultural heritage performed with traditional folkloric music and dances. The pizzeria serves truly Italian pizzas from its classical wood fired brick oven. The Jacaranda offers a wide selection of International cuisine with live music. The Sheba Lounge provides a cozy atmosphere for drinks with live piano entertainment while the Lobby Bar offers the perfect meeting place for all. The Gazebo Restaurant located next to the pool provides outdoor dining daily for lunch as well as a weekly Sunday Brunch with live music.
Whether for a cocktail reception, a banquet, a weeding or a business luncheon meeting, the Hilton Addis Ababa can provide the perfect setting for groups large and small. The Rose Garden next to the Ballroom is ideal for special exhibitions, Barbecue parties and large weddings.
Addis Ababa is the home of the Organization of African Unity and the Economic Commission for Africa. UN agencies have their regional headquarters in the capital city. It is also one of the world's largest diplomatic communities with over 100 missions. Ethiopia, realm of the romantic Queen of Sheba, has always been a magnet for hordes of invaders and explorers alike but now draws travelers from the remainder of the world eager to discover its legendary fascination.