The Mausoleum of Emperor Menelik II

Bahta Mariam Church, the final resting place of Emperor Menelik II, is located just up the hill from the Hilton hotel behind the Grand Palace. Security is tight so you might have to park your car (and your camera) a bit farther down the road but the beauty and grandeur of the stone structure which is the church and the impressive marble mausoleum are definitely worth it. To reach the tombs, one has to enter the basement of the church through a door in the floor so you might want to skip this descent if you tend to get claustrophobic.

The inside of the crypt is dark and stuffy especially when compared with the spacious and elaborately adorned church and grounds. A large photograph of Menelik, who was the only African leader to successfully withstand and even repel European colonial forces, dominates the wall above his shrine while the finely carved marble tombs and corresponding portraits of other royal personages such as Menelik’s wife Empress Taitu, his daughter Empress Zewditu and Emperor Haile Selassie’s daughter, who died at young age of only 22.

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