Mekelle, the capital of Tigray region, has undergone enormous economic development since 1991. Tigray was the worst affected region during the conflict years during the Derg period, and not much development was seen in Mekelle at the time. A number of new industrial ventures, including engineering, construction and the huge cement factory just outside town have been developed. Trading centres, hotels, a new hospital and the impressive Mekelle University with its two campuses now contributes to a feeling of boom in the town, which population must have grown fivefold since the downfall of the Dergue and The Tigray People's Liberation Front's take over in Tigray.
However, history still looms over the capital, with the two castles, Yohannes and Abrea castles from the 1870s, still being the axis on which the town has developed. The castle of Emperor Yohannes (1872-1889) is today a museum as part of Tigray Open Museum. While Abrea castle of a competing king, is now a hotel. The two castles is in eyesight of each other and contributes to making Mekelle interesting for its old as well as new political history, making it a potential hub for tourism for the whole of Tigray with easy access to the numerous churches built from the time of the Axumite Kingdom, when Ethiopia became the first Christian state of the world, around 330 AC.