THE INDIGENOUS & THE FOREIGN
Jesuit Presence in 17th Century Ethiopia
Home | Architecture | Art | Books & Maps | Manuscripts | Historia da Ethiopia | Credits & Contacts | Portuguese
Azazo and Gondar
The church of Takla Haymanot, which was for centuries the residence of the Etchage of the Monastic Order of Dabra Libanos, stands on a hilltop one kilometre from the village of Azazo (10 km south of Gondar). The church compound has preserved some architectural remains of the royal (Orthodox) church that was probably built there during the reign of King Susneyos (1607-1632).
Some of the decorative stones embedded in the inner walls of the church may even have been recycled from the structures of the royal compound of Gannata Iyasus whose remains lie 500 m toward the north-east (in Atie-Wogen). Besides a derelict conical tower and some barely visible foundation walls, little else has survived of what was once the place that came to symbolize the close association of King Susneyos and the once very influential Jesuit missionaries.
Azazo Gannata Iyasus may have been the direct model for the famed castle compound and pool in Gondar, built by order of Susneyos’s son, Fasiladas (the “restorer” of the Orthodox faith). The originality and monumental scale of the compound, which included a leisure pavilion in the centre of a rectangular basin (which served as the model for the one in Gondar), a garden for acclimatizing foreign plants and a Catholic school, is well documented in the writings of Father Manuel de Almeida.
The square palace of King Fasiladas in Gondar was built after 1632. It was initially used as one of the sovereign’s katamas (royal camps), in addition to the ones at Guzara, Dankaz and Guba’e.
Fasil’s Bath, as the Gondar pool is called, is a very large rectangular baptistery ritually used to this day during the annual ceremonies of Temkat (Epiphany).