Home > City Journal, In Memoriam > A look at Entoto Maryam(part 2)

A look at Entoto Maryam(part 2)

August 15 014
According to sources in the church, the establishment of Entoto Maryam came through prophecy. Long before the reign of the Emperor Menelik, there was prophesy about a king who would build a church in honor of the Virgin Mary on Entoto Mountain. At around 1880 the then king of Shewa Menelik waged a war against Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam at Embabo which he won easily.
It was then that he decided to bring the ark of Entoto Maryam to Shoa which he kept at first in a small house in Entoto, the location for the present church. Subsequently, the ark was moved to its present location after the church was built with financial contribution by Empress Taitu. The Empress took it upon herself to take care of the church and even became its first administrator. During the next years, the church exhibited growth and development.
On 3 November 1889, Abuna Matewos, the bishop of Shoa, crowned Menelik II the emperor of Ethiopia at this church. As the venue for his coronation, Menelik gave Entoto Maryam the title of Ri’se Adbarat (first among its peers and head of all churches).
August 15 034
In Fasil Giorgis and Denis Gerard book “Addis Ababa, The City and its Architectural Heritage”, it was stated that after the foundation of Addis Ababa, during the church’s annual celebration in the month of October, the emperor and the empress, accompanied by their entourage, used to travel to Entoto to attend the ceremony and spend the night there. That period was considered the golden era of the Entoto Maryam Church. To show their respect, notables such as Ras Wolde Giorgis, Ras Tessema Nadew, Fitawrari Habte Giorgis. Kegnazmatch Kifelew and others organized banquets for the clergy.
When Empress Taitu passed away she was buried there. The tomb still exists but her body was later taken to Baeta church in Arat Killo to join her husband’s. During the Italian occupation, Entoto Maryam was one of the places that faced potential demolition. It fortunately survived with minor damage. In fact, many people took refuge in it. Nonetheless, the golden crown of Menelik II, which he wore when he became Emperor, and large cannon that he had captured during the battle of Adwa was taken by the invaders.
August 15 018
Photographing inside the museum isn’t allowed but in the palace we were able to take as much photo as possible. Visitors could view the entire arena.
August 15 028
The palace which used to be Menelik’s and Taitu’s residence is a humble wooden house with mud-walled huts and high ceiling. It was built under the direction of Menelik’s Swiss advisor Alfred Ilg. It consisted of clusters of rooms with different functions, bedroom balcony, assembly and banquet hall, podium for the king and the queen, store where raw meat was hanged, princess Entrance, “Dejazmatch” entrance, guest house, and dining room.
We were told some restoration works to shore up the outer walls and foundations have been made but it is there to see the passing of the years have taken its toll on the building. The walls are crumbling.
August 15 016
Outside the palace, we have seen an eucalyptus tree which our guide said 120 years old. The guide said it was the first eucalyptus that Menelik imported from Australia.
August 15 025
Another old tree in the nearby St. Raguel church, was cut down by its new proprietors, the guide told us. In spite of recent effort of reforestation, the days of abundant eucalyptuses are long gone.
With Addis’s accelerating deforestation, much of the forest has gone, cut down for firewood and for house construction.
But it will always be a place worth coming. I promise to myself to come to this upper part of Addis more often.

Categories: City Journal, In Memoriam
  1. Ayele Bekerie
    August 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Thank you Arefe for a good reporting with great pictures on the history of Entoto Maryam church. I will be more than glad to contribute to the restoration of the historic mud house as well as to a reforestation campaign.

  2. ETENU
    August 20, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I will be more than happy to contribute as well. I am planning to send what I can afford at this time just so I don’t see that mud house again. Approximate amt $1000.00. I have contacted my uncle who would go in person and make the donation sometimes next month. I don’t donate organizations, I do it in person or through a friend. Ayele please urge all individuals you know. Thank you so much.

  3. ETENU
    August 25, 2009 at 12:17 am

    Please refrain from donating any money for renovation. I had sources tell meleaving the mud house unremodeled is a means of collecting money. I heard many had given and tourists had generated a lot of cash,and you know what happens to that kind of money. Please don’t urge your friends to give either. I am not giving a penny, if I happen to be there, I will provide material and hire laborers to do the job.

  4. abate yesigat
    August 26, 2009 at 7:31 am

    i want to know the whole history of Entoto Mariam.Currently,the geniun medication of the holy water of the ot the church becomes the miracle for differnt people&differnt people wants to visit the&get treament.so,as the number of custumer increases thew the fasilty on the church mus be impri

  5. endegena marew
    December 10, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    i wonder it very much

  6. ello
    January 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    A nice reporting about it

  7. Abush getachew
    April 17, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Thank you, I got a lot of information about Entoto Mariyam church.

    God bless you!

  8. wongelawit teka
    October 25, 2011 at 7:07 am

    really fabulous to read ur journal. it is from ur journal i get lots of information than those the guidance there. they r really ridiculous that they do not give information for the Ethiopian tourists

  9. Mesay G/meskel
    October 8, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I appreciate that! Arefe God bless u & ur beloved family excellent explanation with perfect pictuorial clues.

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