With an area of several square miles and 7,100 business establishments, Merkato is the largest open-air market in Africa. Locally produced agricultural goods, mainly coffee, make up the bulk of the cargo moving through the Merkato.

There used to be an outdoor market in Addis Abeba near St. George Church at the location of the modern City Hall before the Merkato, but it was abandoned during the Italian rule of the 1930s. The occupants relocated the market to a location near Fitawrari Habte Giyorgis Dinagde’s buildings, which they dubbed Merkato Dinagde. Thus, the segregationist practices of the Italian occupation authority helped establish the current Addis Merkato.

The medieval St. George Merkato, which the Italians renamed Piazza and restricted to Europeans, had European-style stores that showed goods via glass windows. The shop owners, primarily Arab tradesmen, finally moved a half-mile to the west. Local business owners eventually replaced Arab traders, and the Addis Merkato has been local since the 1960s. The Merkato Dijino had no set plan and expanded gradually, acquiring various category stocks known as “terras.”

How to get into Addis Merkato:

The first difficulty is getting there in the first place. Almost constantly congested, the streets around the market. It takes considerably less time to get out of a car and start walking than to remain inside a minivan, bus, or cab.

Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa


Just exercise extra caution when walking on the streets around the market. Drivers have no choice but to gun it and go when they have an inch of the room, paying little heed to walkers due to the heavy and never-ending streams of pedestrian traffic.

Exploring the Market in Addis:

At least ten instances of “person squishing” between two vehicles were seen to me. But on the other hand, this is how the system functions and closes.

Lug it around on your head:

We can see quite a few people carrying objects on their heads, from India to the Congo, but you have never seen as many people carrying enormous things on their heads at once you visit Addis Merkato.

Porters carrying enormous bags were sprinting back and forth. When they visit, you will turn to look. Many porters carry loads so enormous, heavy, or awkwardly sized and shaped that they can’t see where they are going.

As a result, they must frequently go quickly because of their hefty loads.

Taking in and taking out:

The loading and unloading of trucks and vans is another engaging activity at the Merkato and is something you could easily observe for hours. Vehicles cannot move until fully loaded, overloaded, and slightly more loaded.

Trucks and vans typically halt on the street, and a human porter or donkey rushes loads of goods into the market’s muddy interior passageways. The hard-working porters and shoppers can stop for a quick samosa and a cup of coffee on the side of the road to recharge before the next load.

Although you couldn’t view the entire vegetable section, sellers were selling herbs and veggies from gunny bags and by the handful throughout the market.

You can find almost anything:

The issue is knowing where to search. Addis Abeba’s Merkato is one of those markets where you can find everything you desire if you know where to look. So it’s great if you go to the market to look around and see what you can find, but if you’re searching for something specific, you can only imagine how long the search can take.

There are some convenient gas vendors inside the market where you may get some gas if you need to refuel.

Nearly every meal in Ethiopian cuisine benefits significantly from the flavorful power of Ethiopian spices and a mixture known as mitmita. A flood of Ethiopian spice will suddenly assault your nose with grandeur as you wander through the markets while taking in the aromas of numerous other flavors. Ethiopian spices have a lovely scent. Ethiopian culture is centered around coffee, traditionally brewed in a jebena, a clay pot.

We personally only purchased one item while browsing the market—a jebena—to bring back to Thailand, but you are buying different varieties as per your preferences.

The most OK prices on almost everything can be found at this market if you want to do a lot of shopping while visiting Addis Abeba. Thus this market consists of an extraordinary variety of food delicacies;

Shoe polishing:

You’ll probably need a shoe polish after exploring Addis Merkato for a few hours. You can have mud caked on the bottoms of your shoes, depending on the amount of rain that has fallen.

The skilled shoe shiners in Addis Abeba can make your shoes look new in a matter of minutes.

Future market prospects:

The Addis Merkato is changing, according to some Ethiopians in Addis Abeba; it’s not what it used to be. Long-standing market sellers in some locations are being compelled to relocate or close shop due to the land being seized and developed.

The Merkato in Addis Abeba is an exciting market, and although it is one of the most chaotic areas of the city, there is beauty everywhere you turn.


A closer look reveals that the market is meticulously organized, with separate areas for each product, despite the overwhelming appearance of stalls, products, and people. Silver jewelry, robust spices, and other items are available with Birr. Even a “recycling market” is open, selling items like coffee pots made from recycled Italian olive tins and shoes constructed from old tires, among other unusual knickknacks.

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