The most important of 44 venerable Gondarine churches, Debre Birhan Selassie (“Mountain of the Enlightened Trinity”) was also the only one to escape the Mahdist invasion of 1888 totally unscathed, thanks (legend has it) to the timely intervention of an angry swarm of bees. An imposing rectangular stone building, it was founded in the 1690s by Iyasu I, who reputedly intended to relocate the Ark of the Covenant here, and thus built it to the same dimensions as Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Although the church is of considerable interest to scholars of Aksumite architecture, it is best known for the prolific eighteenth-century paintings that adorn every corner of the (surprisingly compact) interior. Several rows of angelic faces gaze down cherubically from the ceiling, while the walls incorporate a miscellany of panels celebrating the life of Christ, the eccentricities of various saints, and the gruesome deaths met by early Christian martyrs.

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Ethiopia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A first-timer's guide to Ethiopia

A first-timer's guide to Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world: its long archaeological history – which traces back to the first humans – has left behind a successio…

04 Sep 2017 • Nellie Huang insert_drive_file Article
17 striking portraits of Ethiopia's Omo Valley tribes

17 striking portraits of Ethiopia's Omo Valley tribes

Renowned the world over for its decorated tribes, the Omo Valley is a stop on many a tourist route in Ethiopia. But visits to the area can cross ethical boundar…

20 May 2016 • Tim Draper insert_drive_file Article
Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures

Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures

Today Ethiopia is celebrating Christmas. Following the Julian calendar, this East African, Orthodox Christian nation celebrates Christmas on the 7th January eac…

07 Jan 2016 • Karoki Lewis insert_drive_file Article
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