Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, is a rugged, landlocked country split by the Great Rift Valley. With archaeological finds dating back more than 3 million years, it’s a place of ancient culture. Among its important sites are Lalibela with its rock-cut Christian churches from the 12th–13th centuries. Aksum is the ruins of an ancient city with obelisks, tombs, castles and Our Lady Mary of Zion church.
The Holy city of Axum is located in Northern Ethiopia. Axum was once the center of a great
empire and ancient civilization and is a historical city with over 3000 years of history; it is home of the original Ark of the Covenant. Ethiopian tradition dictates that Menelik I, the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon brought the Ark to Axum 3,000 years ago and founded the Solomonic dynasty (of which Haile Selassie was the last emperor). The Axum Empire was named as one of the four great powers of the world along with Persia, Rome, and China.
Bale national park
The Bale Mountains National Park (BMNP) is a protected area of approximately 2,200 km2 and is
located 400 km southeast of Addis Ababa in Oromia National Regional State in south-eastern Ethiopia. It belongs to the Bale-Arsi massif, which forms the western section of the south-eastern Ethiopian highlands.
Gondar was once the capital of Ethiopia from 1626 until the mid-19th century. The main architectural
centerpiece is the Royal Enclosure known as Fasil Ghebbi (UNESCO World Heritage Site) containing six fortified stone castles including the three story original Fasiledes Castle plus chancery built by Emperor Fasil in the 1630s.Nearby there is the circular Church of Debre Berhan Selassie (Mountain of the Enlightened Trinity) with its exquisite 17th century ecclesiastical paintings as well as paintings of cherubic angels with wings, which adorn the ceiling and walls.
The Blue Nile Falls is a waterfall on the Blue Nile river in Ethiopia. It is known as Tis Abay in Amharic,
meaning "great smoke". It is situated on the upper course of the river, about 30 kilometers (19 mi) downstream from the town of Bahir Dar and Lake Tana. The falls are one of Ethiopia's best-known tourist attractions. The falls are 42 meters (138 ft.) high, consisting of four streams that originally varied from a trickle in the dry season to over 400 meters wide in the rainy season. Regulation of Lake Tana now reduces the variation somewhat, and since 2003 a hydro-electric station has taken much of the flow out of the falls except during the rainy season. The Blue Nile Falls isolate the ecology of Lake Tana from the ecology of the rest of the Nile, and this isolation has played a role in the evolution of the endemic fauna of the lake.
Founded in the late 12th Century, the town of Lalibela (UNESCO World Heritage site and
considered the 8th Wonder of the World) is literally carved out of the hills nestled within a rugged landscape. Of course the fascinating and historical stone hewn underground church complex of 11 monolithic churches, is the main attraction for visitors as well as trekking in the mountains and viewing monasteries outside town. Lalibela is an extremely popular Northern Circuit destination (especially during religious holidays) and is an easy destination to fly to from Addis Ababa
Holqa Sof Omar
Holqa Sof Omar: is one of the most spectacular and extensive underground caverns in the world:
the Sof Omar cave system. Formed by the Weib River as it changed its course in the distant past and carved a new channel through limestone foothills, the Sof Omar cave system is an extraordinary natural phenomenon of breathtaking beauty. Here the Weib River vanishes into this giant underground world with its arched portals, high eroded ceilings, and deep, vaulted echoing chambers. These caves, now an important Islamic shrine named after the saintly Sheik Sof Omar Ahmed, who took refuge here many centuries ago (around early 11th century AD), have a religious history that predates the arrival of the Muslims in Bale — a history calibrated in thousands, not hundreds, of years .
Ethiopian festival Celebrations are great and colorful events, mostly religious, and frequently take place over several days. Important Christian holidays include Meskel, Christmas, Timkat, Kiddus Yohannes and Easter. And other widely celebrated festivals are Irreechaa and ashenda.
ETHIOPIAN NEW YEAR
Ethiopian New Year takes place in September around the 11th or 12th. It is known as Enkutatash,
which means “Gift of Jewels”. Ethiopians follow the Julian calendar that consists of 13 months (12 months of 30 days and one month with just 5 days/6 in a leap year). The calendar is 7 years and 8 months behind the Western Gregorian calendar. The New Year signifies the end of the rainy season and the lush green landscape (from 2-3 months of heavy rain) is very picturesque dotted with yellow Meskel flowers and a great time to celebrate the new harvest. Torches of dry wood are traditionally burned in front of houses on New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day, girls dressed in new clothes go door to door singing songs and is the day for feasting with family and friends.
Meskel celebration is a religious holiday held to commemorate the discovery of the True Cross upon
which Jesus was crucified. The legend goes that in the 4th century AD the Roman Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, received a vision in a dream where to find the cross. She ordered the people of Jerusalem to collect wood, and the smoke from a huge bonfire apparently indicated the location where the cross was buried. Meskel is celebrated for two days beginning on September 26th. The first day is Demera (September 26), the eve of Meskel in which bonfires are built topped by a cross on which flowers are tied. The next day which is the actual Meskel, people go to the spot of the Demera and use the ashes to mark their foreheads with the sign of the cross.
There is a lot to eat and drink as people celebrate together. One of the significant occurrences of the festival is the coinciding with the mass blooming of Meskel flowers, the golden yellow daisies. During the leap year the celebration takes place on September 27, Otherwise it is celebrated on September 26. In 2013, UNESCO has inscribed Meskel on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Meskel celebration attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to Ethiopia and it has become one of the major boosts to the country’s tourism industry.
Ethiopian Epiphany (Timket) which will be celebrated on January 19th and 20th has rituals and
ceremonies involving the replicas of the Ark of the Covenant. In this procession, the replicas of the Original Ark (Tabots) from each Orthodox churches will be removed and are carried by priests under huge colorful umbrellas, Deacons also carry processional crosses, religious paintings and bells. In the occasion, a lot of people will sing, dance and ululates accompanying the Tabots all the way to the place where the Tabots are supposed to make their Overnight.The following morning, the church officials assemble around the Tabot and sprinkle holy water over all the faithful present and receive the renewals of their vows. After this is done, the congregation follows the bishops, elders and clergy as the Tabots (the replicas of the original Ark) are also carried back to the church from where it came.
One of the distinct thanksgiving celebrations in the traditional religion of the Oromos (Waaqeffannaa) is
called “Irreechaa” or “Irreessaa” which means thanksgiving and has been taking place for more than 6000 years. The festival attracts many people from all walks of life to witness the unique and colorful celebration of thankfulness, blessings and prayers to God (Waaqa) for their achievements and requesting peace and harmony between nature and man and for the health of their families, relatives, animals and the country as a whole. The observance of this unique festival marks two seasonal shifts. The Irreechaa Tulluu is an annual festival observed in May at the top of mountains to mark the end of the dry season and the onset of the rainy season. The second festival Irreechaa Malkaa takes place normally at the end of September or beginning of October with the onset and welcome of the dry season and to pray for a good harvest after the rains.
Many Oromos come to the river or the sea or the lake with an outlet that has since long been chosen to be the place for this annual and colorful thanksgiving celebration. The Gada System, which is the social, political and cultural reflection of the traditional Oromo people, was registered in the UNESCO list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in October 2016.
Ashendiye/Shadey/Solel (different parts of Amhara) and Ashenda (in Tigray) is a feast colorfully
celebrated in the Northern part of Ethiopia in the month of August by the Tigray and Amhara people after two weeks fasting period called “Filseta”. It has a socio-cultural significance for the locals and is unique in a way that girls and young women await this yearly feast and dress up from top to bottom with an array of jewelries in their most attractive and colorful attire made from cotton woven by hand. Ethiopian women have their own unique traditional hairstyle called Shuruba in Amharic. women still attach to the thousands of year old traditional hairstyle during festivities. Women and girls decorate their hair using shuruba in various styles or designs, especially in this holiday season.
Fichee-Chambalaalla is a New Year festival celebrated among the Sidama people. According to
the oral tradition, Fichee commemorates a Sidama woman who visited her parents and relatives once a year after her marriage, bringing buurisame, a meal prepared from false banana, milk and butter, which was shared with neighbors. Communal events take place throughout the festival, including traditional songs and dances. Every member participates irrespective of age, gender and social status.