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The literal meaning of the Amharic term Bahir Dar is "Sea Shore." Hence, Bahir Dar is a city in north western Ethiopia, which is situated on the southern shore of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile (Abay) and where local fishermen still use papyrus boats. The city is located approximately 310 km north-northwest of Addis Ababa, having a latitude and longitude of 11°36'N 37°23'E and an elevation of 1700m above sea level. It is on the north central plateau of Amhara in the Ethiopian highlands, near Gonder. It has an estimated area of 28 square kilometers and an estimated population density of 5,973.60 people per square kilometer (CSA, 2005).
Bahir Dar city is distinctly known for its wide avenues lined with palm trees and a variety of beautiful and colorful flowers. In addition, the variety of attractions in the nearby Lake Tana and Blue Nile river, makes Bahir Dar one of the leading tourist destinations. Furthermore, the city is considered as one of the most beautiful, well planned, and safest cities by many standards. As a result, Bahir Dar city was awarded UNESCO cities for Peace Prize.
Bahir Dar city is is equipped with an airport with paved runways. Ethiopian Airlines operates scheduled flights between Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa as well as with Gondar to the northwest. In addition, the city is connected through roads to these cities. Though cycling is the most common and convenient way of traveling within Bahir Dar city, intercity buses and taxis provide efficient transportation in the city.  

LAKE T'ANA:The largest in the country, covering 2,156 sq km (832 sq mi), is located 1,830 m (6,000 ft) above sea level. About 85 km (about 53 mi) long and 65 km (41 mi) wide, the lake reaches a depth of about 15 m (about 50 ft). About 50 streams, the largest of which is the Little Abbai, or Upper Nile, flow into the lake. The outlet of Lake T'ana, at its southeastern corner, forms a bay about 17 km (about 11 mi) long and 12 km (8 mi) wide. From this bay issues the Abbai, or Blue Nile.

Blue Nile (Abay) river in northeastern Africa, 1,370 km (850 mi) long. It rises at an altitude of 1,830 m (6,000 ft) in the region of Lake T'ana, in northwestern Ethiopia, flows south and then west in Ethiopia, and follows a northwestern course in Sudan before merging, at Khartoum, with the White Nile to form the Nile proper.

Tisisat Falls

The Blue Nile, which contributes about two-thirds of the water of the Nile, is known as the Abbai in Ethiopia, where it, in part, flows through a deep gorge.

Tisisat Falls: Here the Blue Nile creates "Smoking Water" an awe-inspiring sight as it plunges into the gorge below.



Gondar was founded in 1636 by Ethiopian emperor Fasiladas and became the country's first permanent capital. It served as the capital city until Tewodros's time, mid-nineteenth century. The city's unique Imperial compound contains a number of Castles built between 1632 and 1855 by various Emperors who reigned during this period. These dramatic Castles, unlike any other in Africa, display richness in architecture that reveals the Axumite traditions as well as the influence of Arabia.
The most famous buildings in the city lie in the 17 the century Royal Enclosure, including Fasilides castle, Iyasu's Palace, Dawit's Hall, a banqueting hall, stables, Mentewab's Castle, a chancellery, library and three churches. Near the city lie Fasiladas' Bath, home to an annual ceremony where it is blessed and then opened for bathing; the Qusquam complex, built by Empress Mentewab; the eighteenth century Ras Mikael Sehul's Palace and the Debre Berhan Selassie Church.
Until the 16th century, the Emperors of Ethiopia usually had no fixed capital, instead living in tents in temporary royal camps as they moved around their realms while their family, bodyguard and retinue devoured surplus crops and cut down nearby trees for firewood. Being close to supplies of firewood was one of the main reasons for moving place to place.
Beginning with Emperor Minas in 1559, the rulers of Ethiopia began spend the rainy season near Lake Tana, often returning to the same location again and again. These encampments, which flourished as cities for a short time, include Emfraz, Ayba, Gorgora, and Dankaz.
The modern city of Gondar is popular as a tourist attraction for its many picturesque ruins in the Royal Enclosure, from which the Emperors once reigned. 
Gondar is also a noted center of ecclesiastical learning in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Downtown Gondar shows the influence of the Italian occupation of the late 1930s.  The main piazza features shops, a cinema, and other public buildings in a simplified Italian Moderne style still distinctively of the period despite later changes and, frequently, neglect. Villas and flats in the nearby quarter that once housed occupation officials and colonists are also of interest.


Axum is ancient city located in the northern part of Ethiopia. It was the original capital of the eponymous kingdom of Axum, which ruled the region from 400 BC into the 10th century. The kingdom was also arbitrarily identified as Abyssinia, Ethiopia, and India in medival writings.
Axum city has an elevation of 2,131 meters and was a powerful trading center. The major Axumite monuments in the town are Stelae. These stelae are believed to mark the sites in Axum. The largest one lies in the Northern Stelae Park, ranging up to the 33 M high 3.84 M wide 2.35 M deep 520 tones. Great Stele, believed to have fallen and broken during construction. Another stele (24.6 M high 2.32 M wide 1.36 M deep 170 tones) removed by the Italian Fascist army was returned to Ethiopia in 2005 and reinstalled July 31 2008. This stele was already broken into pieces before being shipped. Three more stele in the area measure 18.2 M high 1.56 M wide 0.76 M deep 56 tones, 15.8 M high 2.35 M wide 1 M deep 75 tones, 15.3 M high 1.47 M wide 0.78 M deep 43 tones. The Stelae are believed to mark graves and would have had cast metal discs affixed to their sides, which are also carved with architectural designs.
The power of Axum was based largely on trade. The Red Sea was an important thoroughfare for trading vessels at the time. Merchants from the Roman Empire traveled up and down the sea, trading in harbors along both the African and Arabian coasts, and sailing with the favorable monsoon winds on to India. Axumites exported local products such as ivory, tortoise shell, hippopotamus hide, spices, incense, gold, obsidian, emeralds and other precious stones, and slaves.
These items were exchanged for manufactured goods from the Mediterranean, including iron weapons, articles made of precious metals, glassware, cloth of great variety, garments, pottery, wine, and olive oil. Excavated Axumite tombs contain many of these foreign objects, particularly glassware. Although Aksum commonly imported iron weapons, iron was also smelted locally and manufactured into tools and weapons. For the first few centuries of the kingdom's existence, trade was conducted by barter and direct exchange of commodities.
In about ad 270, Axum began minting coins in the style of Roman coins. Coinage made the exchange of products and tax collection more convenient, facilitating Axumite trade. Axumite coins were made of gold, silver, and bronze, and carried the name of the ruler in whose name they were issued. The coins are therefore important to historians' understanding of the history of Axum, providing royal names and a rough chronology of events.
It is believed it began a long slow decline after the 7th century due partly to Islamic groups contesting trade routes. Eventually Axum was cut off from its principal markets in Alexandria, Byzantium and Southern Europe and its trade share was captured by Arab traders of the era. The Kingdom of Axum also quarreled with Islamic groups over religion. Eventually the people of Axum were forced south and their civilization declined.
Initially, Axum contributed to the rise of Islam as the king of Axum provided refuge to the followers of the prophet Mohammed who were being persecuted by the lords of Arabia. When Muhammad faced oppression from the Quraish clan, he sent a small group that included his daughter Ruqayya and her husband Uthman ibn Affan, whom Ashama ibn Abjar, the king of Axum, gave refuge to, and protection to, and refused the requests of the Quraish clan to send these refugees back to Arabia. These refugees did not return until the sixth year of the Hijra, and even then many remained in Ethiopia, eventually settling in eastern Tigray. This situation made Ethiopia an exception by the prophet Mohamed to the sweeping rule of Islamic conquest.
Legend and history portray Ethiopia as the only country in the world where the three religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have very early roots. As indicated in the Kebra Negast, romantic and inspiring story, the Queen of Sheba (Makda, as she is known in Ethiopia) traveled to the court of Solomon, having been persuaded to visit the King who had a reputation of great wisdom and might. When she arrived in Jerusalem a banquet of specially seasoned meat was given in her honor and, at the end of the evening, Solomon invited her to spend the night in his chambers. Makeda agreed but first extracted a commitment from the King that he would not take her by force. To this he assented, on the single condition that the Queen makes a promise not to take anything in his house. Solomon then mounted his bed on one side of the chamber and had the Queen's bed prepared at the other side, placing near it a bowl of water. Made thirsty by the seasoned food she had consumed, Makeda soon awoke, arose, and drank the water. At this point Solomon seized her hand, accused her of having broken her oath and then worked his will with her.
According to the story, that night the King dreamt that a great light of brilliance, the shekina, the divine presence, had left Israel and moved to Ethiopia. Shortly afterwards the Queen departed and returned to her country and there, nine months and five days later, she gave birth to a son Menelik, the founder of the Ethiopian Solomonic dynasty. When the boy had grown up he went to visit his father who received him with great honor and splendor. After some time at Solomon's court, the youth determined to return once more to his mother's realm.
Thereupon the King assembled the elders of Israel and commanded them to send their first-born sons with Menelik. Before the young men departed they abducted the Ark of the Covenant and took it with them to Ethiopia, which now became the second Zion. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims that the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Aksum houses the Biblical Ark of the Covenant in which lies the Tablets of Law upon which the Ten Commandments are inscribed. This same church was the site Ethiopian emperors were crowned for centuries until the reign of Fasilides, then again beginning with Yohannes IV until the end of the empire. Axum is considered to be the holiest city in Ethiopia and is an important destination of pilgrimages. Significant religious festivals are the T'imk'et Festival, known as the Epiphany in western Christianity, on 7 January and the Festival of Maryam Zion in late November.  


Lalibela is a small town in the centre of what is administratively known as the Amhara division, Ethiopia. The latest census puts its population at 14,668with 7049 males and 7619 females. It has grown immensely since the previous census was published in 1994-which had put the total population at 8484. Lalibela has a latitude and longitude of 12.04° N 39.04° E.
The name Lalibela derived from King Lalibela of the Zagew dynasty which ruled Ethiopia from the late12th to the 13th century.
King Lalibela is credited with the foundation of the 11 rock-hewn churches in the 12th century. They are a lasting monument to man's faith in God and are the world's most incredible man-made creations. Most writers who visited the place describe these churches as the "eighth wonder of the world". These remarkable edifices were carved out of a solid rock, in a region where the ragged landscape still protects the churches from mass tourism. The churches are assembled in three groups, each with a name that reflects the devotion of the believers. Of these, the church of Medhane Alelm (Saviour of the World) is believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world.

The reputed constructor of the churches, King Lalibela is said to have visited Jerusalem and, on his return, attempted to re-create a New Jerusalem. That was the reason why names in the town are biblical. For example, the town's river is known as Jordan.

The Northern Group, Bete Medhane Alem, is home to the Lalibela Cross and believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world, probably a copy of St Mary of Zion in Aksum.
The Western Group is Bete Giyorgis. It is said to be the most finely executed and best preserved church. The Eastern Group include Bete Amanuel (possibly the former royal chapel ), Bete Merkorios (which may be a former prison ), Bete Abba Libanos and Bete Gabriel-Rufael (possibly a former royal palace ), which is linked to a holy bakery .  


Harar is a historic old city in the Eastern part of Ethiopia which was founded in 1520 by Sultan Abu Baker Mohammed. It is considered the fourth holiest city in Islam after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The city has ninety-nine mosques, which is considered the highest concentration of Mosques in theworld. Among the things for which the city has a reputation are the excellent handicraft skills which produce superb woven textiles, basket ware and silverware. It is a centre of Islamic learning and reputed for its superbly bound books.
The city also has a well-deserved reputation for turmoil and bloodshed. Ahmed Gragn, who would later gain notoriety by almost destroying Christianity in Ethiopia, started his military rise by first killing Sultan Abu Baker Mohammed of Harar. He launched an almost successful Jihad against the Christian Empire in 1528 and almost achieved the destruction of Ethiopian Christendom. He would finally be killed by Emperor Galawdewos near lake Tana in 1543. Galawdewos would himself later be killed when trying to subdue Harar, and his head was paraded around the city on a stake.

1647 control of the city was taken over by Emir Ali ibn Daud and the city grew as an important trading point, and as a centre of Muslim scholarship. Fighting with the surrounding Oromo tribes also continued.
In 1875, Harar was occupied by Egypt after almost 250 years of autonomous existence. Their killing of the Emir led to a protracted resistance and their rule ended in 1885 with Emir Abdullahi in control. Soon after, in 1887, Harar lost autonomy to Menelik, the prince of Shoa. Menelik had understood the threat of the colonial powers, and was doing his utmost to save the independence of the region by fighting the warring dukes in the north and by forestalling the colonial powers in every direction. Menelik established a new administration in Harar which included several members of the Emir's family and was headed by his cousin, Ras Mekonnen -the father of Haile-Selassie.
Harar lost its position as a trading centre in the early twentieth century when the railway line was opened linking Djibouti and Addis Ababa. Harar still remains important as the spiritual city of Ethiopian Muslims, and was made a federal city-state in 1995.

The Hyena man:One of Harrar's main attractions is the hyena man who feeds hyenas on the outskirts of the town every night. As evening falls, local men attract wild hyenas to the city in a bizarre spectacle as they bravely feed these dangerous scavengers.
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