The Ethiopian capital is frenetic, sprawling and alluring all at once. It’s a city with a unique identity and a different look and feel to other Sub-Saharan capitals. This may have something to do with the fact that Ethiopia, unlike many other African countries, has never been colonised.
Aside from the occasional Art Deco building – remnants of Italy’s five-year occupation during the Second World War – there’s none of the colonial architecture that can be found in other cities such as Pretoria, Livingstone or Nairobi.
Instead, Addis is a collage of tin shacks and shiny glass tower blocks – the latter symbolising Ethiopia’s impressive economic growth.
As well as being an important African business hub with international business people filling flights to Addis Ababa, the city is brimming with cultural and educational institutions. It boasts the well-respected Addis Ababa University, the renowned National Museum and Ethnographic Museum, and countless cafes and jazz clubs. It is also a city of considerable political significance, home to both the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the headquarters of the African Union.
Addis residents take great pride in their city – and, indeed, their distinct national heritage. This pride is tangible at street level, where coffeehouses serving authentic Ethiopian coffee are ubiquitous, and the national dish injera (sourdough flatbread) is served along with cooked meats and vegetables in every other restaurant.
What’s more, Addis has a friendly reputation and is considered a safe city. Visitors are actively encouraged to explore by foot and experience its lively energy first-hand.