Above Addis Ababa, St. Raguel Church Offers Lessons on Ethiopian Religious Life
Often overlooked but one of the more interesting churches in Ethiopia, The Church of St. Raguel (or Holy Raguel or Kiddus Raguel) in Entoto, a short drive outside of Addis Ababa, is well worth making the time during your travel within Ethiopia.
The church has been in existence for several hundred years. The first services were held in a nearby cave on the church grounds; when exploring this section, be sure to bring a small flashlight so you can check out the interior’s walls. Most of the drawings has faded, but this makes for an interesting peek regardless.
The nearby church, which now serves as a local house of worship, offers fascinating lessons on the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Paintings inside the church provide a wondrous Ethiopian perspective on the Scripture. Note how the "bad guys" are shown from the side, only having one eye. You will have to find a guide in order to see these paintings—the small expense is well worth it, and the chances are high that someone will be waiting at the church office anyway.
As with most Ethiopian churches’ architecture, the building is octagon-shaped: women sit on one side, men on the other. During important Christian holidays, worshipers will crowd outside—do not miss a walk around the building’s dark, hardwood exterior as it offers nice views of the eucalyptus forests.
Entrance into St. Raguel Church, and typical of most historic and religious sites in Ethiopia, will set you back 100 bir ($5). After your tour, be sure to tip the guide the equivalent of about two2 dollars or euros. If your guide cannot find it, someone at one of the other Entoto attactions should be able to point the way; the church is about four kilometers away from Menelik’s Palace.
Image credits: Leon Kaye