The historic monastery of Debra Libanos lies in the magnificent 700-metre deep Wusha Gadel (“Dog Valley”), 4km off the Bahir Dar road 100km north of Addis Ababa. Originally known as Debre Asbo, it was founded in 1284 by Tekle Haymanot and given its present name in 1445 by Emperor Zara Yaqob. It was here that Emperor Lebna Dengel received the first official Portuguese mission to Ethiopia in 1520, by which time it had usurped Hayk Istafanos as the political centre of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It would retain this role until May 1937, when the Italian occupiers attached and razed the monastery during a service dedicated to Tekle Haymanot. An estimated 400 civilians, 297 monks and 100 young deacons were captured and executed by the Fascist army.

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