Arada is one of the oldest parts of Addis Ababa and also one of the areas where the early history of the city is most apparent. Its narrow, sloping streets are dotted with beautiful old one- and two-storey buildings variously adorned with verandas, pillars, bay windows and other decorations in accordance with Indian, Middle-Eastern and European styles. Sadly, many of them are in extremely poor repair.

The area also has its fair share of newer-build low-rise concrete residential and office blocks, especially along the main roads. At the heart of the district lies Piazza (pronounced Piassa), a bustling commercial area centred around De Gaulle Square; the imposing city hall, the seat of the city government, constructed in 1965, and the octagonal neoclassical St Georges Cathedral (Ethiopian Orthodox), built to mark Emperor Meneliks defeat of the Italians in the battle of Adwa in 1896 and named after the patron saint of Ethiopia, are also to be found here. Its busy roads are lined with shops and boutiques selling European clothes, jewellery and all manner of other goods at prices that are generally higher than in other parts of the city. Both the shopkeepers and their customers hail from other areas of the capital; Arada itself is home to low-income workers living in small state-owned houses and shanty dwellings directly behind the rows of shops.

Piazza is also the location of the Greek and Armenian Orthodox churches, testifying to two of the oldest foreign communities in the city. To the east of Piazza, there is a kind of educational, cultural and administrative zone around Arat Kilo and Sidist Kilo on the Entoto Road heading north, which includes the university of Addis Ababa the scene of bloody riots in April 2001 the state-owned Ethiopian Press Agency, numerous federal government ministries and several museums.

The office of the prime minister, the presidential palace and parliament are also located near here. In Arada good rental accommodation is in short supply and in high demand. The area is served by minibuses heading in all directions.

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Address Arada, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Arada, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia