UNESCO Heritages

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Ethiopia's UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Semen Mountains National Park (1978)

Massive erosion over the years on the Ethiopian plateau has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 m. The park is home to some extremely rare animals such as the Gelada baboon, the Simien fox and the Walia ibex, a goat found nowhere else in the world.
Semen Mountains National Park, in northern Ethiopia is a spectacular landscape, where massive erosion over millions of years has created jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 m. The park is of global significance for biodiversity conservation because it is home to globally threatened species, including the iconic Walia ibex, a wild mountain goat found nowhere else in the world, the Gelada baboon and the Ethiopian wolf.
The property was established in an area inhabited by humans and, at the time of inscription, 80% of the park was under human use of one form or another. Threats to the integrity of the park include human settlement, cultivation and soil erosion, particularly around the village of Gich; frequent fires in the tree heather forest; and excessive numbers of domestic stock. Agricultural and pastoral activities, including both cultivation of a significant area of the property and grazing of a large population of animals in particular have severely affected the natural values of the property, including the critical habitats of the Walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf. The boundaries of the property include key areas essential for maintaining the scenic values of the property. However, they do not encompass all the areas necessary to maintain and enhance the populations of the Walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf, and a proposal to revise and extend the park boundaries was put forward in the original nomination. Whilst human settlements threaten the integrity of the originally inscribed property, two proposed extensions of the national park (the Masarerya and the Limalimo Wildlife Reserves, and also the Ras Dejen mountain and Silki-Kidis Yared sectors) and their interlinking corridors are free of human settlement and cultivation, and support the key species that are central parts of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. Several assessments have considered that an extension of the property to match extended boundaries of the National Park, which to include areas with negligible human population is an essential requirement to maintain its Outstanding Universal Value.
The site is located in the western Semen Mountains, 120 km north-east of Gondar in Begemder Province, north-west Ethiopia. With its abundance of creviced basalt rock, Semen serves as an ideal water catchment area, replenished by two wet seasons and the Mayshasha River, which weaves its way north to south through the national park. Consequently the park is rich in a wide range of wildlife and vegetation.
The vegetation is a mixture of afro-alpine woods, heath forest and high montane vegetation. Higher altitudes support montane savannah and montane moor land with tree health, giant lobelia, yellow primrose, everlastings, lady's mantle and mosses (Grimmiaceae). Lichen drapes the high-altitude forest trees. Ridge tops and gorge sides support coarse grassland with herbs thickets, scattered, and creepers. Forests of St John's wort once flourished at 3,000-3,800 m, but few still remain. There are high, but unquantified, levels of endemism.
The park is home to some extremely rare animals such as the gelada baboon, Ethiopian Wolf and walia ibex, a goat found nowhere else in the world. Walia ibex on the north scarp of the massif are endemic to the Semen Mountains, with most of the population occurring in the park. Semen fox are endemic to Ethiopia, and other mammals include the hamadryas baboon, colobus monkey, leopard, caracal, wild cat, spotted hyena, jackal and several large herbivores, including bushbuck, common duiker and klipspringer. The 400 bird species include lammergeyer, Verreaux's eagle, kestrel, lanner falcon and augur buzzard. A total of 21 mammals have been recorded, with three endemics and 63 bird species, including seven endemics.
The Semen region has been inhabited by human settlers and cultivators for at least 2,000 years. Today it is surrounded by old cultural center’s such as Aksum, where over 100 hand-carved stone monoliths (stelae) can be found, Lalibela and Gonder, where curious 15th-century churches and palaces still stand. Erosion indicates that cultivation first started on the gentler slopes of the highland valleys but later extended onto steeper slopes. Semen is at the crossing of old trade routes and records of various local features were made in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela (1978)

The 11 medieval monolithic cave churches of this 13th-century 'New Jerusalem' are situated in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia near a traditional village with circular-shaped dwellings. Lalibela is a high place of Ethiopian Christianity, still today a place of pilmigrage and devotion.
In a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia, some 645 km from Addis Ababa, eleven medieval monolithic churches were carved out of rock. Their building is attributed to King Lalibela who set out to construct in the 12th century a ‘New Jerusalem’, after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the holy Land. Lalibela flourished after the decline of the Aksum Empire.
There are two main groups of churches – to the north of the river Jordan: Bete Medhani Alem (House of the Saviour of the World), Bete Mariam (House of Mary), Bete Maskal (House of the Cross), Bete Denagel (House of Virgins), Bete Golgotha Mikael (House of Golgotha Mikael); and to the south of the river, Bete Amanuel (House of Emmanuel), Bete Qeddus Mercoreus (House of St. Mercoreos), Bete Abba Libanos (House of Abbot Libanos), Bete Gabriel Raphael (House of Gabriel Raphael), and Bete Lehem (House of Holy Bread). The eleventh church, Bete Ghiorgis (House of St. George), is isolated from the others, but connected by a system of trenches.
The churches were not constructed in a traditional way but rather were hewn from the living rock of monolithic blocks. These blocks were further chiseled out, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, roofs etc. This gigantic work was further completed with an extensive system of drainage ditches, trenches and ceremonial passages, some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs.
Bete Medhani Alem with its five aisles is believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world, while Bete Ghiorgis has a remarkable cruciform plan. Most were probably used as churches from the outset, but Biete Mercoreos and Biete Gabriel Rafael may formerly have been royal residences. Several of the interiors are decorated with mural paintings.
Near the churches, the village of Lalibela has two stores round houses, constructed of local red stone, and known as the Lasta Tukuls. These exceptional churches have been the focus of pilgrimage for Coptic Christians since the 12th century.
The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are exceptionally fine examples of a long-established Ethiopian building tradition. Monolithic churches are to be found all over the north and the centre of the country. Some of the oldest of such churches are to be found in Tigray, where some are believed to date from around the 6th or 7th centuries. King Lalibela is believed to have commissioned these structures with the purpose of creating a holy and symbolic place which considerably influenced Ethiopian religious beliefs.
The 11 medieval monolithic cave churches of this 13th-century 'New Jerusalem' are situated in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia near a traditional village with circular-shaped dwellings. Lalibela is a high place of Ethiopian Christianity, still today a place of pilgrimage and devotion.
Lalibela is a small town at an altitude of almost 2,800 m in the Ethiopian highlands. It is surrounded by a rocky, dry area. Here in the 13th century devout Christians began hewing out the red volcanic rock to create 13 churches. Four of them were finished as completely free-standing structures, attached to their mother rock only at their bases. The remaining nine range from semi-detached to ones whose facades are the only features that have been 'liberated' from the rock.
The Jerusalem theme is important. The rock churches, although connected to one another by maze-like tunnels, are physically separated by a small river which the Ethiopians named the Jordan. Churches on one side of the Jordan represent the earthly Jerusalem; whereas those on the other side represent the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of jewels and golden sidewalks alluded to in the Bible.
It was King Lalibela who commissioned the structures, but scholars disagree as to his motivation. According to a legendary account, King Lalibela was born in Roha. His name means 'the bee recognizes its sovereignty'. God ordered him to build 10 monolithic churches, and gave him detailed instructions as to their construction and even their colors. When his brother Harbay abdicated, the time had come for Lalibela to fulfill this command. Construction work began and is said to have been carried out with remarkable speed, which is scarcely surprising, for, according to legend, angels joined the laborers by day and at night did double the amount of work which the men had done during the hours of daylight.
Like more episodes in the long history of this country, there are many legends about this king. One is that Lalibela was poisoned by his brother and fell into a three-day coma in which he was taken to Heaven and given a vision of rock-hewn cities. Another legend says that he went into exile to Jerusalem and vowed that when he returned he would create a New Jerusalem. Others attribute the building of the churches to Templars from Europe.
The names of the churches evoke hints of Hebrew, a language related to the Hamo-Semitic dialect still used in Ethiopian church liturgies: Beta Medhane Alem (House of the Saviour of the World), Beta Qedus Mikael (House of St Michael) and Beta Amanuel (House of Emmanuel) are all reminiscent of the Hebrew beth (house). In one of the churches there is a pillar covered with cotton. A monk had a dream in which he saw Christ kissing it; according to the monks, the past, the present and the future are carved into it. The churches are connected to each other by small passages and tunnels.

Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar Region (1979)

Fasil Ghebbi is located in the Amhara National Regional State, in North Gondar Administrative Zone of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The serial property consists of eight components. Within the Fasil Ghebbi palace compound are: the Castle of Emperor Fasilidas, the Castle of Emperor Iyasu, the Library of Tzadich Yohannes; the Chancellery of Tzadich Yohannes; the Castle of Emperor David, the Palace of Mentuab and Banqueting Hall of the Emperor Bekaffa. The remaining seven components are located in and around the city of Gondar: the Debre Berhan Selassie (Monastery and church); the Bath of Fasilidas; Kiddush Yohannes; Qusquam (Monastery and Church); Thermal Area; the Sosinios (also known as Maryam Ghemb); the Gorgora (Monastery and Church) and the Palace of Guzara.,
Between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, Ethiopian rulers moved their royal camps frequently. King Fasil (Fasilidas) settled in Gondar and established it as a permanent capital in 1636. Before its decline in the late eighteenth century, the royal court had developed from a camp into a fortified compound called Fasil Ghebbi, consisting of six major building complexes and other ancillary buildings, surrounded by a wall 900 meters long, with twelve entrances and three bridges.
The fortress city functioned as the centre of the Ethiopian government until 1864. It has some twenty palaces, royal buildings, highly decorated churches, monasteries and unique public and private buildings, transformed by the Baroque style brought to Gondar by the Jesuit missionaries. The main castle has huge towers and looming battlemented walls, resembling a piece of medieval Europe transposed to Ethiopia. Beyond the confines of the city to the north-west by the Qaha River, there is a two-storey pavilion of a bathing palace associated to Emperor Fasilidas. The building is a two-storey battlemented structure situated within and on one side of a rectangular pool of water which was supplied by a canal from the nearby river. The bathing pavilion itself stands on pier arches, and contains several rooms reached by a stone bridge, part of which could be raised for defense. Subsequent rulers, such as Iyasu the Great, continued building, improving the techniques and architectural style and expanded to the hills north-west of the city centre, in the area known as Qusquam.
Fasil Ghebbi and the other remains in Gondar city demonstrate a remarkable interface between internal and external cultures, with cultural elements related to Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Jews and Muslims. This relationship is expressed not only through the architecture of the sites but also through the handicrafts, painting, literature and music that flourished in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
After its decline in the 19th century, the city of Gondar continued to be an important commercial and transport hub for northwest Ethiopia. Some of the monuments still retain their original spiritual function and the surrounding landscape has significant cultural importance for the local inhabitants.
The World Heritage site is an outstanding testimony of the modern Ethiopian civilization on the northern plateau of Tana. The characteristics of the style of the Gondar period appeared at the beginning of the 17th century in the capital city and have subsequently marked Ethiopian architecture in a long-lasting manner.
Flanked by twin mountain streams at an altitude of more than 2,300 m, Gondar was founded by Emperor Fasilidas who, tiring of the pattern of migration that had characterized the lifestyle of so many of his forefathers, moved his capital here in 1636, a role that it filled until 1864. It is famous for its many medieval castles and the design and decoration of its churches. No one knows exactly why Fasilidas chose to establish his headquarters there. Some legends say an archangel prophesied that an Ethiopian capital would be built at a place with a name that began with the letter G. The legend led to a whole series of 16th- and 17th-century towns: Guzara, Gorgora, and finally Gondar. Another legend claims that the city was built in a place chosen by God, who pointed it out to Fasilidas who had followed a buffalo there when hunting.
The main castle, which stands today in a grassy compound surrounded by later fortresses, were built in the late 1630s and early 1640s on the orders of Fasilidas. With its huge towers and looming battlemented walls, it resembles a piece of medieval Europe transposed to Ethiopia. In addition to this castle, Fasiladas is said to have been responsible for the building of a number of other structures, perhaps the oldest of which is the Enqulal Gemb (Egg Castle), so named on account of its egg-shaped domed roof.
Beyond the confines of the city to the north-west by the Qaha River there is another fine building sometimes associated by Fasilidas, a bathing palace. The building is a two-storied battlemented structure situated within and on one side of a rectangular pool of water which was supplied by a canal from the nearby river. The bathing pavilion itself stands on pier arches, and contains several rooms reached by a stone bridge, part of which could be raised for defence. The Emperor, who was greatly interested in architecture, was also responsible for seven churches and a number of bridges.
Iyasu the Great, a grandson of Fasilidas, was particularly active. His castle was described at the time as finer than the House of Solomon. Its inner walls were decorated with ivory, mirrors and paintings of palm trees and its ceiling was covered with gold-leaf and precious stones. Iyasu's most lasting achievement was the Church of Debra Berhan Selassie (Light of the Trinity), which stands surrounded by a high wall on raised ground to the north-west of the city and continues in regular use. A plain, thatched, rectangular structure on the outside, the interior of Debra Berhan Selassie is marvellously painted with scenes from religious history. The north wall is dominated by a depiction of the Trinity above the Crucifixion; the theme of the south wall is St Mary and that of the east wall the life of Jesus. The west wall shows major saints, with St George in red and gold on a prancing white horse.
Not long after completing this remarkable and impressive work, Iyasu went into deep depression when his favourite concubine died. He abandoned affairs of state and his son, Tekla Haimanot, declared himself Emperor and killed his father. Tekla Haimanot was in his turn murdered; his successor was also forcibly deposed and the next monarch was poisoned. The brutalities came to an end with Emperor Bakaffa, who left two fine castles, one attributed directly to him and the other to his consort, the Empress Mentewab. Bakaffa's successor, Iyasu II, is regarded by most historians as the last of the Gondar Emperors to rule with full authority. During his reign, work began on a whole range of new buildings outside the main palace compound. The monarch also developed the hills north-west of the city centre known as Kweskwam (after the home of the Virgin Mary)

Axum (1980)

The ruins of the ancient city of Aksum are located close to Ethiopia's northern border. They mark the location of the heart of ancient Ethiopia, when the Kingdom of Aksum was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia. The massive ruins, dating from between the 1st and 13th centuries, include monolithic obelisks, giant stelae, royal tombs and the ruins of ancient castles. Long after its political decline in the 10th century, Ethiopian emperors continued to be crowned in Aksum.
Beginning around the 2nd millennium BCE and continuing until the 4th century CE there was immigration into the Ethiopian region. The immigrants came mostly from a region of western Yemen associated with the Sabean culture. Conditions in their homelands were most probably so harsh that the only means of escape was by a direct route across the Red Sea into Eritrea. By the 4th century, Aksum was already at its peak in land sovereignty, which included most of southern Yemen.
The city of Aksum emerged several centuries before the birth of Christ, as the capital of a state that traded with ancient Greece, Egypt and Asia. With its fleets sailing as far afield as Ceylon, Aksum later became the most important power between the Roman Empire and Persia, and for a while controlled parts of South Arabia. Aksum, whose name first appears in the 1st century AD in the Periplus of the Eritrean Sea, is considered to be the heart of ancient Ethiopia. Indeed, the kingdom which held sway over this area at this time took its name from the city. The ruins of the site spread over a large area and are composed of tall, obelisk-like stelae of imposing height, an enormous table of stone, vestiges of columns and royal tombs inscribed with Aksumite legends and traditions. In the western sector of the city there are also the ruins of three castles from the 1st century AD.

The earliest records and legends suggest that it was from Aksum that Makeda, the fabled Queen of Sheba, journeyed to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem. A son was born to the queen from her union with Solomon. This son, Menelik I, grew up in Ethiopia but travelled to Jerusalem as a young man, where he spent several years before returning to his own country with the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark, according to Ethiopian belief, has remained in Aksum ever since (in an annex to the Church of St Mary of Zion). In addition to the old St Mary of Zion church, there are many other remains in Aksum dating back to pre- and early Christian times. Among these, a series of inscriptions on stone tablets have proved to be of immense importance to historians of the ancient world. They include a trilingual text in Greek, Sabaean (the language of South Arabia) and Ge'ez (classical Ethiopian), ordered by King Ezana in the 4th century AD, along with the 3,000-year-old stelae and obelisks. The standing obelisk rises to a height of over 23 m and is exquisitely carved to represent a nine-storey building in the fashion of the 'tower-houses' of southern Arabia.

Aksum inherited a culture highly influenced by southern Arabia. The Aksumites' language, Ge'ez, was a modified version of the southern Arabian rudiments, with admixtures of Greek and perhaps Cushitic tongues already present in the region. Their architectural art was inherited from southern Arabian art; some Aksumite artwork contained combinations of Middle Eastern deities.
From its capital on the Tigray Plateau, Aksum was in command of the ivory trade with Sudan. It also dominated the trade route leading south and the port of Adulis on the Gulf of Zola. Its success depended on resourceful techniques, the production of coins, steady migrations of Graeco-Roman merchants and ships landing at the port of Adulis. In exchange for Aksum's goods, traders offered many kinds of cloth, jewellery and metals, especially steel for weapons. At its peak, Aksum controlled territories as far as southern Egypt, east to the Gulf of Aden, south to the Omo River, and west to the Cushite Kingdom of Meroë. The South Arabian kingdom of the Himyarites was also under the control of Aksum. Unlike the nobility, the people used salt and iron bars as money and barter remained their main source of commerce.

Lower Valley of the Awash (1980)

The Awash valley contains one of the most important groupings of palaeontological sites on the African continent. The remains found at the site, the oldest of which date back at least 4 million years, provide evidence of human evolution which has modified our conception of the history of humankind. The most spectacular discovery came in 1974, when 52 fragments of a skeleton enabled the famous Lucy to be reconstructed.
The Lower Awash Valley paleo-anthropological site is located 300 km northeast of Addis Ababa, in the west of the Afar Depression. It covers an area of around 150 km2. The Awash Valley contains one of the most important groupings of paleontological sites on the African continent. The remains found at the property, the oldest of which date back over 4 million years, provide evidence of human evolution, which has modified our conception of the history of humankind. The most spectacular discovery came in 1974, when 52 fragments of a skeleton enabled the famous Lucy to be reconstructed.
Excavations by an international team of paleontologists and pre-historians began in 1973, and continued annually until 1976, and ended in 1980. In that time, they found a large quantity of fossilized hominid and animal bones in a remarkable state of preservation, the most ancient of which were at least four million years old. In 1974, the valley produced the most complete set of remains of a hominid skeleton, Australopithecus afarensis, nicknamed ‘Lucy’, dating back 3.2 million years. Afarensis has since been proved to be the ancestral origin for both the Genus Australopithecus and Homo-sapiens.
A recovered female skeleton nicknamed ‘Ardi’ is 4.4 million years old, some 1.2 million years older than the skeleton of Australopithecus afarensis ‘Lucy’. There is a wealth of paleo-anthropological and pre-historic tools still awaiting discovery and scientific study and these are seen as constituting an exceptionally important cultural heritage resource.

The boundaries of the sites have yet to be defined. The most extensive remains assigned were found in Hadar, one of the localities within the Lower Awash Valley, but the rest of the valley is seen to have the potential to contribute to further paleontological and historical evidence.
Furthermore, the Middle Awash Valley has been the focus of intensive research since 1981 and it is the entire valley that is now seen to constitute one of the most important paleontological and pre-historical sites in the world. The boundaries of the property need to be defined to encompass all the attributes related to known and potential archaeological evidence. A buffer zone needs to be provided for the property.
In spite of its remote location in the Afar Depression, the property is reportedly the target of individual tourists hunting fossil souvenirs and is thus highly vulnerable. The material authenticity is explicit in the finds themselves. However, due to the nature of the site, it is necessary to hold the unearthed finds in the National Museum. The authenticity of the immediate settings of the finds remains largely intact as a result of its desert location, but is vulnerable to fossil hunters. In order to manifest the complete storey of the finds from this valley, it is necessary to go beyond the current boundaries. Better information on the property is still needed.

Lower Valley of the Omo (1980)

The hominid remains that have been excavated in the Lower Valley of the Omo are characteristic of a unique type. They bear exceptional witness to important developments in the field of cultural development.
The south-west of Ethiopia is a region rich in wildlife resources, with three major national parks. Distinctly different from other parts of Ethiopia, it offers a mixture of fertile grasslands, terraced hillsides, broad rivers and forests. The National Park in which the hominid remains have been found is one of the most beautiful in Ethiopia. Its 4,068 km2 of wilderness bordered by the Omo River is home to an amazing range of wildlife: 306 species of bird have been identified here, while large herds of eland, buffalo and elephant are not uncommon.
The Lower Valley of the Omo is unlike any other place on Earth in that so many different types of people have inhabited such a small area of land over many millennia. It is believed that it was the crossroads of a wide assortment of cultures where early humans of many different ethnicities passed as they migrated to and from lands in every direction. As a result the Lower Valley of the Omo, which is a prehistoric site near Lake Turkana, is renowned the world over.
The discovery of many fossils there, especially of Homo gracilis, has been of fundamental importance in the study of human evolution. The site is well documented owing to the research undertaken during the 1930s by Professor Camille Aramburg and from 1968 to 1976 by a team of paleontologists and prehistories. The discoveries of humanoid fossils in the valley include jaw bones, quantities of detached teeth, and fragments of australopithecines. Furthermore, evidence of the oldest-known humanoid technological activity has been found in this region, as well as stone objects attesting to an encampment of prehistoric human beings that is among the oldest known today.

Tiya (1980)

Tiya is among the most important of the roughly 160 archaeological sites discovered so far in the Soddo region, south of Addis Ababa. The site contains 36 monuments, including 32 carved stelae covered with symbols, most of which are difficult to decipher. They are the remains of an ancient Ethiopian culture whose age has not yet been precisely determined.
The stelae from the Soddo region, with their enigmatic configuration, are highly representative of an expression of the Ethiopian megalithic period.
Soddo lies to the south of Addis Ababa, beyond the Awash River. It is remarkable because of the numerous archaeological sites of the megalithic period, comprising hundreds of sculptured stelae that have been discovered there. The carved monoliths vary in size from 1 m to 5 m. Their forms fall into several distinct categories: figurative composition; anthropomorphic; hemispherical or conical; simple monoliths. In the northern area are to be found stelae with depictions of swords, associated with enigmatic symbols and schematic human figures.
Among the most important of the roughly 160 archaeological sites discovered so far in the Soddo region is Tiya, lying 38 km south of the river, which is also one of the most representatives. Roughly aligned over an axis of 45 m there is a group of 33 stelae, with another group of three stelae a short distance from them. Of the 36 stelae at Tiya, 32 are sculpted with vaguely representational configurations (including the sword designs), which are for the most part difficult to decipher. One depicts the outline of a human figure in low relief.
They are the remains of an ancient Ethiopian culture the age of which has not yet been precisely determined. However, they have been interpreted as having a funerary significance, as there are tombs scattered around the stelae.

Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town (2006)

The fortified historic town of Harar is located in the eastern part of Ethiopia, 525 km from the capital of Addis Ababa, on a plateau with deep gorges surrounded by deserts and savannah. The walls surrounding this sacred city, considered “the fourth holy city” of Islam, were built between the 13th and 16th centuries and served as a protective barrier. There were five historic gates, which corresponded to the main roads to the town and also served to divide the city into five neighborhoods, but this division is not functional anymore. The Harar gate, from where the main streets lead to the centre, is of recent construction.
Harar Jugol numbers 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century, 102 shrines and a number of traditional, Indian and combined townhouses with unique interior designs, which constitute a spectacular part of Harar's cultural heritage. The African and Islamic traditions influenced over a long period of time the development of the city and its typical urban planning and contributed to its particular character and uniqueness. The present urban layout follows the 16th century design for an Islamic town with its central core occupied with commercial and religious buildings and a maze of narrow alleyways with imposing facades. The traditional Harari house has a typical, specific and original architectural form, different from the domestic layout usually known in Muslim countries, although reminiscent of the coastal Arab architecture, and with an exceptional interior design. At the end of the 19thcentury Indian merchants built new houses with wooden verandas that defined a different urban landscape and influenced the construction of the combined Indian/Harari houses. Their architectural and ornamental qualities are now part of the Harari cultural heritage. Harar functioned as the capital of the Harari Kingdom from 1520 to 1568, became an independent emirate in the 17th century and was integrated into Ethiopia in 1887. From the late 16th century to the 19th century Harar was an important trade centre between the coast and the interior highlands and a location for Islamic learning. Today Harar is the administrative capital of the Harari People National Regional State (HPNRS). The historic town has a traditionally functioning community, forming a complex social-environmental whole where each element has its symbolic and practical significance. The Harari people are distinguished by the continued cultural traditions and quality of their handicrafts, including weaving, basket making and book binding. The organization of the communities through traditional systems has preserved its social and physical inheritance and, significantly, the Harari language.

Konso Cultural Landscape (2011)

The Konso Cultural Landscape is characterized by extensive dry stone terraces bearing witness to the persistent human struggle to use and harness the hard, dry and rocky environment. The terraces retain the soil from erosion, collect a maximum of water, discharge the excess, and create terraced fields that are used for agriculture. The terraces are the main features of the Konso landscape and the hills are contoured with the dry stone walls, which at places reach up to 5 meters in height.
The walled towns and settlements (palates) of the Konso Cultural Landscape are located on high plains or hill summits selected for their strategic and defensive advantage. These towns are circled by between one and six rounds of dry stone defensive walls, built of locally available rock. The cultural spaces inside the walled towns, called moras, retain an important and central role in the life of the Konso. Some walled towns have as many as 17 moras. The tradition of erecting generation marking stones called daga-hela, quarried, transported and erected through a ritual process, makes the Konso one of the last megalithic people.
The traditional forests are used as burial places for ritual leaders and for medicinal purposes. Wooden anthropomorphic statues (waka) carved out of a hard wood and mimicking the deceased, are erected as grave markers. Water reservoirs (hard) located in or near these forests, are communally built and are, like the terraces, maintained by very specific communal social and cultural practices.

Commemoration feast of the finding of the True Holy Cross of Christ (2013)

The festival of Maskel is celebrated across Ethiopia on 26 September to commemorate the unearthing of the True Holy Cross of Christ. Celebrations begin with the building of the Damera bonfire in Maskel Square in Addis Ababa – a conical pyre of poles surrounded by bundles of branches and torches, decorated with green grass and Abyssinian daisies symbolizing the New Year. Hundreds of thousands of people from diverse communities flock to the square as colorfully dressed priests chant hymns and prayers and perform their unique rhythmic dance in front of the pyre. At the climax, the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church lights the bonfire. Maskel is celebrated nationwide regardless of age, gender, language or ethnicity. Participants are believed to receive spiritual rewards from the celebration and blessings from the Holy Cross. Local churches play a key role in coordinating communities and safeguarding the element. The festival is also a time when families get together and migrant workers return home – reunions that result in the inflow of money, information and new ideas from urban centres to rural areas. Prior to the celebration, personal quarrels and social disagreements must be resolved. In this way, Maskel is an occasion for Ethiopians to promote their spiritual life through reconciliation, social cohesion and peaceful coexistence.

Gada system (2016)

Gada system is a remarkable indigenous Democratic Socio-Political system of the Oromo people which they have preserved for the last five centuries. Gada guides the life course of individuals and regulates political, economic, social and religious activities of the Oromo people. It also serves as a mechanism of Socialization, Education, Religious expression, Peace maintenance and social cohesion and promotes the principles of equality and freedom.
The Oromo society is organized under five Gada generation, classes or sets which rotate every eight years to assume political, economical and ritual responsibilities. The recruitment to the membership of the five Gada classes is based not on age but rather on genealogical generation ‘descent’. The entire Gada system developments through eleven series grades. The system rotates every eight years to allow each class to undertake power in the middle of the life course (the sixth grade) called Gada (Luba). The class in power is headed by a political leader known as Abba-Gada literally “father of the period”. The Gada power transition in the Oromo culture has its own ceremony.
Gada is a complex system that incorporates essential institutions such as Moggaasa (naturalization), Guddifacha (adoption), Araara (conflict resolution), Gumaa (reparation), Rakoo (marriage law) Waaqeffannaa (Oromo religion) and Siinqee (institution to safeguard women right).
In the Oromo Gada System exists an annual thanks-giving ceremony day known as Irrecha.

This ceremony took place at Lake Hora Arsadi.

Fichee- Chambalaalla (2015)

Fiche – Chambalaalla is a New Year festival celebrated among the Sidama people. According to the verbal tradition, Fichee commemorates a Sidama woman who visited her parents and relatives once a year after her marriage, bringing ''buurisame'', a meal prepared from false banana, milk and butter, which was shared with neighbors. Fichee has since become a unifying symbol of the Sidama people. Each year, astrologers determine the correct date for the festival, which is then announced to the clans. Communal events take place throughout the festival, including traditional songs and dances. Every member participates irrespective of age, gender and social status. On the first day, children go from house to house to greet their neighbors, who serve them ''buurisame''. During the festival, clan leaders advise the Sidama people to work hard, respect and support the elders, and abstain from cutting down indigenous trees, begging, indolence, false testimony and theft. The festival therefore enhances equity, good governance, social cohesion, peaceful co-existence and integration among Sidama clans and the diverse ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Parents transmit the tradition to their children orally and through participation in events during the celebration. Women in particular, transfer knowledge and skills associated with hairdressing and preparation of ''buurisame'' to their daughters and other girls in their respective villages.