CNN Travel gives travel tips and inspiration with insider guides, fascinating stories, video experiences and stunning photos, on today’s issue, amongst all the wonderful places that have been covered, Ethiopia made it to the list as well. CNN Travel explains the 10 things that make Ethiopia extraordinary.
- The best Italian restaurant in the world (according to Bob Geldof, anyway)
The buzzing bedlam of Mahatma Gandhi Street in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, is the setting for Castelli’s — arguably the best Italian restaurant this side of Bologna.
- Italian-style coffee
Like great Italian food, coffee is one of the legacies of the Italian occupation of Ethiopia during WWII.
- Chinese roads
Made in China. Actually made by China. The country is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Ethiopia’s infrastructure.
- Tanks … lots of them
Swords into ploughshares … or tanks into unusual climbing frames for kids, in the case of Ethiopia.
Don’t worry: unless you get horribly lost and venture into Somalia, the tanks you’ll see along the roadside are burned-out remnants of the Eritrean-Ethiopian War (1998-2000).
- Underground churches
Lalibela’s monolithic churches still impress nine centuries later.
Ethiopia sags under the weight of its cultural treasures, such as those at the UNESCO World Heritage site Lalibela.
- Martian landscapes
Located in the tumultuous Afar region on the Eritrean border, the Danakil Depression is strewn with volcanoes and salt lakes and is one of the hottest places on the planet.
- Men-only monasteries
Debre Damo houses some of the most ancient Christian scripture in Africa. Gentlemen: you’ll have to describe it to the ladies.
Just off the main road between Lalibela and Aksum lies Debre Damo, a monastery that can be reached only by scrambling up a 15-meter-high cliff face.
- The Ark of the Covenant
According to enthusiastic local sources, the historic town of Aksum — focal point of the Aksumite Empire (AD 100-940) — is the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
- Roadside Rastafarians
The roadside Rastas you’re likely to meet are a friendly bunch, who’ll happily talk you through points of interest in the area (often relating to high cliffs off which Italian soldiers were thrown), as well as hawking red, green and yellow hats and accessories.
- A fairy tale kingdom
Aside from a few eye-catching art deco buildings left over from the Italian occupation, the castles of Fasilides, Iyasu and Mentwab, in the former imperial capital of Gondar, are the structures that stay in the mind.
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