|Merkato - "Africa's largest 'open air' market?|
For shopping, Merkato is a much better option compared to Churchill Avenue. Addis residents call it the biggest open air market in Africa. Contrastingly, a more fitting description would be a collection of malls, a much larger version of Eastleigh, but a less congested and cleaner one. The malls each have stalls which deal in a variety of items, from paintings and other artefacts, to leather goods, to imported hardware from China.
|Some of those missing from Mengistu's reign of red terror.|
Image taken at the Red Terror museum
If looking to shop for textiles, then Shromeda is where you should be headed to. Buying textiles around the Central Business District might see you paying as much as 10 times what they cost. Note the distinction between various textiles - there’s handmade scarves and machine woven ones, same to fabrics. There’s also pure cotton fabrics and synthetic ones. If unsure, ask the merchant before you buy, most will point out the difference.
Besides Merkato, a visit to the Holy Trinity Cathedral at Arat Kilo is highly advised. It does cost 100 Birr, so plan for that. The Orthodox Church has been at the centre of Ethiopia’s culture and the state. It is at the Orthodox Church Museum (behind the church) that you can have a short history of Ethiopia, dating all the way back to the 15th Century.