These photos show a design for a forest city in Mexico, not a palace in Ethiopia

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A set of photos shared on Facebook purportedly shows designs for a new palace under construction in a forest in Ethiopia’s capital. However, this is false: two of the photos show the design for a smart forest city in Mexico, not Ethiopia, while a third shows a winding road in Germany.

The post has a headline in Amharic that translates to “The palace project”.

“This mega Palace project construction commences from the forest in the mountain behind the England Embassy and it covers Entoto mountain, part of Sululta and Tafo (sic),” the post reads in part.

Screenshot of the false post, taken on May 22, 2023

Entoto mountain is a forested area in Addis Ababa, while Sululta and Tafo are towns on the capital’s outskirts.

The post also describes the facilities and buildings to be included in the project.

Forest project

Local media outlets reported (archived here) in May 2022 that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had initiated a new palace project costing 49 billion birr ($900 million) for construction in Yeka forest in Addis Ababa.

Another local news outlet (archived here)reported on May 12, 2023 that the construction of the palace was started by the state-owned Ethiopian Construction Works Corporation and that three additional construction companies were hired by the government to advance the project.

However, the photos accompanying the post do not show the design of the palace in Addis Ababa as claimed.

Unrelated photo

AFP Fact Check conducted reverse image searches and established that two of the photos show a smart forest city in Mexico, not Ethiopia.

The first photo shows a design for a smart city in Mexico by the Italian architectural firm Stefano Boeri Architetti. The photo was published on the studio’s official website in September 2019 (archived here).

Screenshot of the original photo, taken on May 22, 2023

The description accompanying the photo reads: “The Cancun Smart Forest City project presents the urban planning of a new Forest City in Mexico which covers 557 hectares and which will be capable of hosting up to 130,000 inhabitants”.

Similarly, reverse image searches for a second photo in the post show that it comes from the same Mexican project.

Screenshot of the original photo, taken on May 22, 2023

Reverse image searches for a third photo showing a winding road turned up many posts (see here and here) that claimed it showed Entoto Park just outside Addis Ababa; however, this is also false.

One post on LinkedIn described the photograph as having been taken in a forest in Bayern, Germany, and provided coordinates.

We checked the coordinates on Google Maps satellite imagery and confirmed that the photograph was indeed taken there, as the curve of the road matches exactly.

The last two images in the post simply show Abiy and a Google Maps screenshot of the Yeka district in Addis Ababa.