A look at Entoto Maryam
Emperor Menelik II is regarded by many as one of the greatest Ethiopians of all time. He was often, simultaneously soldier, politician, king, raconteur and some-time brick-layer. This can be seen at the church of Maryam (St. Mary) on Entoto Mountain, in which he has taken part in the building work.
The great modernizer of Ethiopia Menelik was born on 17 August 1844 in Ankober. He would have turned 165 today. Befitting the occasion, this weekend I set out to explore Entoto Mariam Church, the Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu Memorial museum and former palace located in the church’s very compound.
For anyone who wishes to trace Atse Menelik’s legacy, visiting the church is important as it was here that Menelik was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in November 1889, and his image hangs on its walls. The monarch himself personally played the leading role in establishing the church as part of his effort to build up his new capital Addis Ababa which in English meant New Flower. Today looking at it, the area’s image is partly defined by its past, the church’s and the palace’s buildings representing 125 years history.
Taxi is available to go Entoto Maryam and the road from Shiro Meda to Gusqaum and Entoto Maryam isn’t in bad shape. However, given the speed of change in other parts of the city, the area doesn’t seem to have changed much from the Emperor’s time. It is a sad, stagnant part of the city.
The outside building of the museum isn’t very attractive either and in fact it looks more like a conservation unit than a museum.It was only opened in 1987, yet looks old.
The inside is rich with the Emperor’s and his consort queen Empress Taitu’s furniture, items, photographs, textiles and even rifle used in the battle of Adwa.
The museum grants the visitor passage, as well, to an enchanting moment in a far-off place or time. Gifts, bequests, purchases, trades, and expeditions have filled this reservoir to the brim.
Among items of particular interest are mirror given by Queen Victoria for Empress Taitu in 1878, Dirsane Mikaele used by the Emperor Menelik, gold tainted clock given to Menelik from France, Icon of St. Mary given from the Russia, Negarit (communication drum) used to call for war, photographs of the Entoto Maryam church at the inauguration day, the Emperor’s bed used for relaxing, a fancy robe worn by the Menelik’s when he was crowned Emperor, an Indian made plate used for Holy communion.
A tomb inside the church
(Second part tomorrow)