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Entoto is an important watershed, to the north water flows to the Blue Nile, to the south to the Awash River.  In 1881 emperor Menelik II made his permanent camp there, after remains of an old town (believed to have been the capital of 16th century monarch Lebna Dengel) were discovered, which Menelik thought was a divine and auspicious sign.

It was cold, difficult to provision and there was a shortage of wood. Empress Taytu was said to have led the move down to the plain of Finfine, and to have named the new capital Addis Ababa, or New Flower. What most attracted Queen Taytu’s consort, were the hot springs on the lower south-facing slopes at a place called Filwoha (Amharic for ‘boiling water’) were she and many companies paid frequent visits to enjoy the hot gushing mineral waters.  Entoto was abandoned as a site for the capital.

However, the churches of Mariam for anyone who wishes to trace Atse Menelik’s legacy, visiting St Mary (Mariam) church is important as it was here where Menelik was crowned emperor of Ethiopia in 1889 and his image hangs on its walls and the archangel Raguel remain within the old imperial compound on Entoto. 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.

Opened in 1987, there is a Small museum in the compound. There are various clothes, court and household implements and weapons dating from the period.

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