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TE  -  ST    005 

Debre Berhan, Ankober, 1 day

We set off at 7.00 am, heading north on the Asmara Road. Our first stop will be Debre Berhan, some 130 km from Addis Ababa. 

  • The great Emperor Zera Yaqob (1434 - 1468) made his imperial capital here, after seeing a "heavenly light" (almost certainly Halley’s comet) , which he took as a divine sign. 

Later rulers abandoned the town, but it once again became an important centre under the Shoan kings, notably King Sahle Selassie (1813 - 1847). 

However, it was largely destroyed in 1855, when Emperor Tewodros advanced into Shoa. Emperor Menelik made it his capital for a period, and visitors should see the church of Selassie which he restored in 1906.

  • In the town itself, visitors might like to buy the woolen hats worn by shepherd boys, and carpets with the designs characteristic of the area.

We now take the road east to another former imperial capital - Ankober, a little over 40 km from Debre Berhan. 

  • Founded by King Amaha Iyesus, Ankober commanded the very important trade route between the eastern lowlands and the Showan plateau. 

Abandoned by Menelik II in favour of Entoto (and later Addis Ababa), the old palace ruins can still be seen, and 

  • two of the original five churches (Mariam and Medhane Alem) are still used as places of worship.

From the town of Ankober, there are marvelous views over the escarpment. 

  • For ornithologists there is the chance of seeing the very rare Ankober serin, and other species such as Smith's francolin, the yellow throated serin, the white billed starling and the black winged love bird.

We will take a picnic lunch in Ankober and set off back to Addis Ababa mid afternoon.

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