Credit: Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa
ETHIOPIA TRAVEL GUIDE
Sometimes the best way to get your hands on a trusty Ethiopia travel guide, or any city for that matter, is to speak with a local. In conversation with Rakeb Sile, co-founder of Addis Fine Art in Ethiopia, the gallery owner discusses her favorites and must-see sights in Ethiopia.
Installation view of Liberty by Adiskidan Ambaye at Addis Fine Art Gallery, 2020. Courtesy of Addis Fine Art.
WHAT WOULD BE AT THE FOREFRONT OF YOUR ETHIOPIA TRAVEL GUIDE?
Rakeb Sile: Start your day off by visiting the newly opened National Palace of Ethiopia. There you will see the spectacular Unity Park and Emperor Menelik II lush 18th Century Palace, which boasts exquisite historical paintings, architecture and beautiful decor. Stop for lunch at the Hyatt Regency Restaurant where you will be surrounded by the best local art at every turn.
Then visit our gallery where you will enjoy some of the most exciting contemporary Ethiopian artists the country has to offer. Swing by Anna Getaneh’s African Mosaique Boutique for a spot of locally made designer clothes and accessories. In the evening, I would suggest a drink and some local food (injera and shiro) at Fendika Cultural Center, which has nightly performances by musicians and poets, and exhibitions of art by exciting emerging Ethiopian artists.
WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE TRAVEL TIP THAT’D STAND OUT IN YOUR ETHIOPIA TRAVEL GUIDE?
Rakeb Sile: My number one tip for a first-time traveler to Ethiopia is either get a reputable guide or, if you have contacts in the country who are willing to show you around, even better! Ethiopia is more than four times the size of the UK, and it has lots to see across the entire country. A guide can help you plan your itinerary and suggest the best and safest ways to travel. You are likely to encounter a language barrier in Ethiopia as there are over 80 languages spoken. A person who can accompany you and speaks the local dialect can help you discover so much more about this diverse country.
Ethiopia has an art scene which is finding its voice. It is optimistic, exciting, and emboldened by Ethiopian artists making waves on the international stage. The Addis Ababa University, Alle School of Fine Arts & Design is the engine behind the scene, with many of our painters having studied at the school. Modernist painter Tadesse Mesfin has been an educator at the school for three decades and has taught and inspired generations of artists including many on our roaster, Merikokeb Berhanu, Addis Gezehagn, Tesfaye Urgessa, Ermias Kifleyesus and Tizta Berhanu.
ONE THING YOU MUST SEE BEFORE LEAVING ETHIOPIA?
Rakeb Sile: There are too many to choose from, but if I had to choose just one, it would be the town of Lalibela. Add it to your Ethiopia travel guide. Lalibela is home to the magnificent stone-carved churches, which date back over 800 years. If you are lucky enough to visit during Ethiopian Christmas (7th January) you will see the place come to life with thousands of pilgrims dressed mostly in white gathering around the churches. It is one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world.
Gather these travel tips from Rakeb Sile, gallery owner and co-founder of Addis Fine Art Gallery, and file these away for a future trip to Ethiopia, a country brimming with modern art and design. Browse handmade Ethiopian textiles and gifts ideas on 54kibo using the Shop by Country feature.
Explore Egypt next, on The Summit.