Gondar, Splendor of the Past

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Fasil Ghebbi, are the remains of a fortress-city that was the residence of the Ethiopian emperor Fasilides and his successors in the 16th and 17th centuries. Fasil Ghebbi served as the home of Ethiopia's emperors in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its unique architecture shows diverse influences including Nubian, Arab, and Baroque styles. The site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Empress Mentawab reigned from 1730 – 1755, but after 12 years of ruling from the palace in the royal compound, she decided to build her own palace and church outside the compound. Empress Mentewab built several significant structures in Gondar, including her own castle in the Royal Enclosure, and a large banqueting hall as well.

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    Thank you Pilar Aluxia. No, it isn’t a church, because they can’t enter in the church in this period when Women are considered Ritually Unclean, is a space where the queen can pray when the church is inaccessible. You can see in episode24 Gondar, Debre Birhan Selassie Church, the advertisement on the church wall: 'As per the Church's rule you are advised not to go inside if you were slept with your spouse yesterday and during menstruation period for ladies'
    Yes, the Orthodox church restricts Communion, and sometimes, women are told not to touch the Bible, not to kiss icons or relics, and even stand in the church closer to the exit. Different priests tell differently, but Communion was always forbidden. In the earlier times in the Catholic Church, there was a consensus that it was better to refrain from Communion when 'nocturnal pollution' (for men) or menstruation (for women) occurred. See for example, Aquinas' treatment on the matter in the Summa. In fact, right until the 1950's there was a passage in the altar missal (Missale Roamnum) for priests advising them on this matter.
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  • Very interesting. I was surprised separate church for women during menstruation.
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  • @undefined
    Thank you Carmen, thank you, gracias, LOVE
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  • Very interesting too. Thanks for this new tour Michaela!
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  • THANK YOU Johndemi for being such incredible supporter and for the gift of your friendship, thank you

    Also for the lost comment 'Very well documented, thank you Michaela.' Thank You!!!
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  • The walled city of Gondar attracted the politically powerful families from all sectors of Ethiopia including the Oromo and the Tigrey. The Solomonic dynasty intermarried with all Ethiopians. The ruthless murder of emperors by Ras Mikael Sehul of Tigrey as viceroy (enderase) of the emperors of Gondar had resulted in a change of the system of government. Becoming an appointee of an emperor or his viceroy was no longer sufficient to satisfy the political aspirations of strong Ethiopian families, and the era of princes (Zamana Masafint) began.
  • Gondar, Splendor of the Past

    1. 1. http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/sandamichaela-2154196-ethiopia26/
    2. 2. Gondar is a town founded in 1636 by the great Emperor Fassiladas, serving as the royal capital of Ethiopia for over 230 years. Fasil Ghebbi are the remains of a fortress-city that was the residence of the Ethiopian emperor Fasilides and his successors. After choosing Gondar as capital, Emperor Fasiladas constructed a Royal Enclosure that covered 75,000 square metres, and contained castles, palaces, library and banquet hall etc. The complex is enclosed by a curtain wall which is pierced by twelve gates
    3. 3. The Ethiopian city of Gondar, north of Lake Tana, is a former imperial capital. Founded by Emperor Fasilides in about 1636, Gondar was Ethiopia's capital until 1855. During periods of instability, Gondar was repeatedly sacked, leaving most of the imperial buildings in a state of romantic ruin.
    4. 4. Following Emperor Bekaffas (1721- 1730) death, his son, Iyasu II, was too young to take the thrown. As a result, Empress Mentawab reigned from 1730 – 1755, but after 12 years of ruling from the palace in the royal compound, she decided to build her own palace and church outside the compound.
    5. 5. Empress Mentewab's (1706 - 1773, Empress of Ethiopia, consort of Emperor Bakaffa, mother of Emperor Iyasu II and grandmother of Emperor Iyoas I) history is too complicated to attempt to describe in any detail here. The Empress lived during a time of intrigue, turmoil and conflict between and among various factions and lineages within the imperial family. Mentewab was born in Qwara province, and was rumored to have had a Portuguese grandparent; because of this, she was often suspected of harboring secret Roman Catholic sympathies.
    6. 6. A painting of Mentewab on horseback at the Kuskuam treasure crypt. Mentewab married Emperor Bakaffa in Qwara 6 September 1722, becoming his second wife (his first wife having mysteriously died on the day she was crowned immediately following her coronation banquet).
    7. 7. Mentewab's Castle Empress Mentewab built several significant structures in Gondar, including her own castle in the Royal Enclosure, and a large banqueting hall as well.
    8. 8. Mentewab's Castle Most significantly she built a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary at Qusquam (named for a site in Egypt where the Holy Family had stayed during their exile) in the mountains outside of Gondar.
    9. 9. Empress Mentewab was crowned co-ruler upon the succession of her son Iyasu II in 1730, and held unprecedented power over government during his reign. (She descended in her own right from emperors who reigned two centuries earlier.) Contemporary painting of Mentewab laying prostate at the feet of Mary and Jesus at Närga Selassie, 1748, Unknown 18th century Gondarine painter
    10. 10. Her attempt to continue in this role following the death of her son 1755 led her into conflict with Wubit (Welete Bersabe), Iyasu's widow, who believed that it was her turn to preside at the court of her own son Iyoas.
    11. 11. Mentewab's Castle carved cross above a window The conflict between these two queens led to Mentewab summoning her Qwaran relatives and their forces to Gondar for support.
    12. 12. Wubit responded by summoning her own Oromo relatives and their considerable forces from Yejju.
    13. 13. Following the death of her husband, Empress Mentewab took up a romantic liaison with her late husband's nephew. The Empress' much younger lover was derisively called "Melmal Iyasu" (Iyasu the Kept) by members of the court. Mentewab would have three daughters by "Melmal Iyasu", including Woizero Aster Iyasu, who would marry the powerful Tigrean warlord Mikael Sehul.
    14. 14. Mentewab summoned the powerful Mikael Sehul (who was to become her son-in-law) to mediate the dispute and prevent a bloodbath. Upon arriving in Gondar, he was made Ras.
    15. 15. Ras is the highest noble rank. One had to be elevated to the rank of negus by Imperial decree, but ras was usually hereditary. (The word's origin is Indo European, hence the Indians' raj, the Egyptians' ra, the Romans' rex.)
    16. 16. Mentewab had hoped that he would land firmly on her side, but instead Ras Mikael seized power for himself, and eventually engineered the murder by strangulation of Emperor Iyoas I, at which time Mikael also married the aunt of his victim.
    17. 17. Mentewab commissioned the construction of the KusKuam St. Mary Church, in the hills, about 3km to the West of Gondar inside an embattled curtain wall with turrets and gates, similar to, but smaller than the Royal Enclosure Fasil Ghebbi. Within its premises, she had herself her three-storied Mentewab's Palace built as her retreat from the daily affairs at the royal center of power. The Banquet Hall at her palace at Kuskuam became quite famous as she entertained high guests at her retreat; the palace also had a room with a sunken bath, still present today. After the murder of her grandson, Mentewab retired mostly from political life but she would live to see two more successors the throne. Upon her death Mentewab too was buried at the Kuskuam St. Mary Church.
    18. 18. Mentewab built a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary at Qusquam (named for a site in Egypt where the Holy Family had stayed during their exile) in the mountains outside of Gondar. The St. Mary church at Qusquam was burnt by Sudanese invaders in 1988, and rebuilt by the Italians in the late 1930s.
    19. 19. The church building in Ethiopia consists of three concentric rings. The inner circle (meqdes) is the place where the of the Ark (tabot) is kept. Only priests are allowed to enter this part of the church. The second circle (qiddist) is reserved for those who received the Holy Communion. The rest of the congregation stands in the outer ring (kine mahlet), always barefooted, on the covered floor. The tabot is a model of the Ark of the Covenant of the Old Testament and the central element of religious activities in the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia.
    20. 20. The skeleton of Empress Mentewab, her son, Emperor Iyasu and her grandson Iyoas I, were found in the foundations of the Kuskuam St. Mary church during the rebuilding of the of the church in the 1930s by the Italians, after which they were placed in a coffin with a glass window, currently at display in the Kuskuam treasure crypt
    21. 21. The remains of Empress Mentewab, her son Emperor Eyasu II, and grandson Emperor Eyoas I, were placed together in a glass topped coffin in the crypt of the church.
    22. 22. Gate in wall, separating the religious premises of the Qusquam Mariam church from the royal palace
    23. 23. Gate in wall, separating the religious premises of the Qusquam Mariam church from the royal palace
    24. 24. .Immature Tawny Eagle, Gondar Photo by Stuart
    25. 25. An embattlement curtain wall with turrets and gates protected Kuskuam from raiders, until Sudanese invaders put the place to ashes.
    26. 26. Empress Mentewab was distraught at the murder of her grandson. She retreated to Qusquam and buried her grandson there next to her son, and refused to return to the city of Gondar. She lived at her palace there in seclusion till the end of her life
    27. 27. Huts for students at the Kuskuam Church Complex
    28. 28. Mentewab's Palace and the Mariam Church were set fire to by the Mahdists from Sudan during their sacking of Gondar in 1888, and only the walls of the Banquet Hall of the Palace remain largely intact. The Italian occupiers during the 1936 - 1941 Ethio- Italian war started the reconstruction of the church, to be completed by Emperor Haile Selassie.
    29. 29. Like the Royal EnclosureEmpress Mentewab s' Kuskuam Complex is made up of a series of buildings including a long, castellated palace used for state receptions and to house the royal garrison. Its exterior is decorated with red volcanic tuff; spot the figures of crosses and Ethiopian characters and animals, such as St Samuel riding his lion
    30. 30. Empress Mentewab was at times a victor and a victim, ultimately living out her final years in seclusion after her grandson Emperor Iyoas I was murdered in the power struggle.
    31. 31. As menstruating women were forbidden to enter a church, Mentewab had a circular "Se'el Bet" Chapel built with Icons her favorite saints where she would pray when menstruating
    32. 32. Mentewab's Palace became her favorite residence. She burried her son, Emperor Iyasu and her grandson Iyoas I in the Mariam Qusquam Church after their murders, after which she refused to return to Mentewab's Castle at Fasil Ghebbi, staying in her place the remaining years of her life.
    33. 33. Sound: Aster Aweke - Fiker Text: Internet Pictures: Sanda Foişoreanu Sanda Negruţiu Jean Moldovan Alin Samochis Daniel Scrãdeanu Internet Copyright: All the images belong to their authors Presentation: Sanda Foi oreanuş www.slideshare.net/michaelasanda

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