Ethiopia’s Imperial Palace in the capital, Addis Ababa has now been opened up after refurbishment on a part of the land for the general public’s viewing. The 40-acre estate was built by King Menelik II more than 100 years ago as home of the royal family.
The developed park known as Unity Park is about 15 acres out of the site that also houses the Ethiopian prime minister.
The Imperial Palace has a storied history layered with political intrigue. It is the point from which Menelik II reigned between 1889 and 1913, overseeing the country’s defence against Italian colonisation in the First Italo-Ethiopian War in 1896.
Before he was overthrown in 1974, the famous Emperor Haile Selassie lived in the Imperial Palace.
Interestingly, the Derg military government imprisoned Selassie on the compounds of the palace.
Since after Selassie, the palace has been used by the military and civil governments for state activities.
However, in 2018, then new prime minister Abiy Ahmed announced the country was looking to redesign part of the huge land area for the purposes of tourism.
Two years later, the park is ready after some $170 million was splashed on it. CNN reports Unity Park contains landscapes, renovated palace building and animal enclosures.
The report also adds that the new site spells excitement for many Ethiopians given Ethiopia’s volatile past.
This national rejuvenation also comes at a time when Prime Minister Ahmed is being hailed across the world for winning 2019’s Nobel Peace Prize.