MEKELLE CITY TOUR
After relaxed morning breakfast, take a city tour of Mekelle, founded by Emperor Yohannes IV as his capital, after he relocated his power base from Debra Berhane to Mekele in 1881. Mekele is also the capital city of the Tigray National Regional State. Late this afternoon we will take a Mekelle City Tour. We will view to the impressive Dejat Abraha Castle built in the heart of the city around 1906. Today the castle is a hotel. We will also stop to visit the Hawelti (Monument of the Martyrs) erected to dignify the valiant fighters who sacrificed themselves to emancipate their people from the dictatorial military regime (1974-1991). The artistic tower, spiraling more than 100 feet above the ground and mounted by a large ball, is visible through much of Mekele. This is the centerpiece of the large war memorial. The memorial is modern and engrossing. As you enter, on each side, there are larger than life figures representing the victims and victors of the war. Appropriately black and stick like, the figures include mothers and children trekking out from the famine, several of them not making it. With them are the hardy Tigrain fighters, machine guns over their backs, and trusty donkeys in tow. These peasant fighters overcame the Soviet-backed might of the Derg military regime. Later after a lunch break, we will visit the historical Atse Yohannes IV Palace, which is named after the famous King who ruled Ethiopia from 1872 to 1889. Emperor Yohannes chose Mekele as the seat of his government and built his graceful palace, still intact, in the 1870s. The palace now serves as a museum and is highlighted by the Emperor’s throne, the royal bed, his ceremonial dress, rifles, and many other valuable historical collections. The fantastic throne of Atse Yohannes IV was made by the Italian engineer Giacomo Nareri in 1874 and it is the eye-catching centerpiece of the museum.