Tiya, one of Ethiopia’s UNESCO registered sites is home to Gurage tribe. It is found 80km south of Addis Ababa in Soddo. Most of the statues measure up to three meters and the longest is about five meters. Tiya is famously singled out from over 160 archaeological discoveries at the site. It contains 36 statues covered with mysterious scripts which are difficult to decipher. Few of these were taken to Addis Ababa University Institute of Ethiopian studies for further study and decoding of the language.
The place contains several standing monuments excavated by French archaeologist who believed the statues commemorated the battlefield deaths. This historical site of the medieval Ethiopian society shows artifacts from the 12th century. Other smaller stelae clusters found in Soddo and Awassa are also associated to Tiya. Next to the stelae field, there is a museum showing pictures of the excavation work and artifacts found on site.
The numerous remarkable archaeological pieces comprise of hundreds of sculptures which form figurative structures and depictions of swords. Nearby, one could find stunning natural gifts like Melka Awash, the Hera Shetan Crater Lake, and Agesoke, a place where long naturally created blocks can be seen.
Much of the exact background and history of the decorated stone pillars are not yet understood by experts, and interpretations of the images continue to vary. Guides will have interesting stories to tell, some of which are backed by research and others from legend.
When to visit
The place is gifted with admirable warm weather condition which makes it a visitor’s favorite and open all year round.
What to expect
The heritages are found on the open field and you will be expected to pay entrance fees if you hold foreign passports. Visit is offered for free for Ethiopians.
How to travel within
Visitors can travel freely and without worrying about safety issues. It’s possible to hire guides on the site who can answer all your questions.
There are many hotels and guest houses around the site. It’s best to stop at Tiye on the way to Langano or Arba Minch. Tiya is just off the main road andl the luxuries and affordable accommodations for backpackers are available on Jovago.com which offers best negotiated price and guaranteed booking.
What to Wear
The place is warm, it’s advisable to wear light closes and shoes.
If you enjoy trying new cuisine, you have come to the right place. The locals make airy and tasty thin bread called kocho prepared from pulverized and fermented plant powder. It can be eaten with kitfo (minced raw beef), traditionally spiced cheese and several other traditional meals.
+251 – SIM cards (2G, 3G, and 4G ) allow visitors to make local and international calls. The 3G and 4G SIM fast internet connections only work in Addis Ababa however it’s still possible to make calls outside of the capital city.
How to get there
There’s an early morning bus to Butajira from Addis Ababa. It leaves before 9am, it’s advisable to arrive at the bus station early in the morning so as to not to miss your ride. Keep in mind to ask to be dropped off at Tiya.
Foreign currencies are accepted at all hotels and shops, you can calculate exchange rates from
US citizens are allowed to have visa upon arrival at Ethiopian airlines. Tourist visa is very easy to process and issued quickly. All visa application and requirements are available at
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By Eden Sahle