Entoto Maryam Church

A trip out of Addis and up to the summit of Entoto mountain is well worth the effort, and not just for the great views of the city you get from the top.  In Emperor Menelik’s day, Entoto was Ethiopia’s capital. Indeed, he was crowned in Entoto Maryam Church which is still in regular use today.  The unusual octagonal shaped church is large and imposing and is a replacement for the tiny round church Menelik first had built on the site in 1877.  Menelik’s wife, Empress Titu, who died in 1918, was originally buried in an unprepossessing tomb on Entoto, but she was later moved to a final resting place more befitting her status – next to her husband in Taeka Negest Ba’eta Le Mariam Monastery in Addis Ababa.

The first tomb of Empress Titu

The first church built in 1877






Next to the church is a small, but interesting museum crammed with religious artefacts. Most fascinating to me, though, was the gold medal won by Derartu Tulu for the women’s 10,000 metre race at the summer Olympics in Sydney in 2000.  It is displayed in a dusty glass case near the exit and I would have missed it had the guide not pointed it out to me.  Derartu donated her medal to the museum in thanks to God and the church as she had trained at altitude on Entoto Mountain in preparation for the games.

Close to the church is Emperor Menelik’s palace, built in 1883.  Forget the images usually conjured up by the word ‘palace’.  This building is relatively small and very simple in design.  The roof is thatched and the interior is plain, a humble residence for the ‘father’ of modern Ethiopia.

Menelik’s humble palace

Plain interior


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