Thursday, June 13, 2024
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National Palace opening to public in February

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By our staff reporter

After commencing in April of last year with an estimated one-year timeline, the long-awaited renovations of the National Palace are expected to conclude by mid-February. Sources reveal that doors will be opened to visitors during the last weeks of February.

To facilitate the full renovation process, all items within the palace were being carefully wrapped and packed, then relocated to an undisclosed location, in preparation for the palace’s renovation.

Originally named the Jubilee Palace in honor of Emperor Haile Selassie’s Silver Jubilee in 1955, the palace has served as the Emperor’s primary residence. Despite its status as an iconic national structure, it has never been accessible to the public and has been used exclusively as an official residence for the president and hosting official functions.

The renovation project, which will end shortly, is part of the French government’s commitment to bolster the Ethiopian Heritage Program. This commitment was solidified following a visit by high-ranking French government officials to Addis Ababa in March 2019.

On July 16, 2020, an agreement was signed between Ahmed Shide, Minister of Finance, Valérie Tehio, the Country Director of the French Development Agency (AFD), and Frederic Bontems, the then Ambassador of France to Ethiopia and the African Union. This agreement secured 12 million euros in financing from AFD for the first phase of the palace renovation project.

Furthermore, the government has announced plans to construct a new building for the presidential office, which is currently situated within the same compound as the Prime Minister’s office. The president is expected to relocate to this new building and presidential residence, located near the US embassy.

According to sources, the rehabilitation of the palace will preserve its original architectural beauty and integrity. However, comprehensive maintenance activities, as well as additional construction work, will be undertaken to transform it into a premier tourist attraction in the city.

The first phase of the project, costing 20 million euros, will involve opening the palace to the public. The palace administration oversaw the implementation of the project with the support of French expertise. French public agencies and prominent organizations, such as the Versailles Palace, renowned for their expertise in international technical cooperation, also contributed to the renovations.

In line with efforts to expand tourist destinations and boost income, the government opened the Menelik Palace, built by Emperor Menelik in 1887, to the public in 2019 after extensive renovation works that spanned over a century.

Similarly, the French government is providing funding and technical support for the renovation projects of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Ethiopia, further demonstrating their commitment to preserving and promoting Ethiopia’s cultural heritage.

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