One of the most beautiful streets in all of Jerusalem is Ethiopia Street. It is located just off the Prophets Street, and abuts both the downtown triangle of West Jerusalem on its south, Mea She’arim on it’s north, and the Old City on the south-east.
Connecting Ethiopia Street to the Prophets Street made it into an important street; however, during the Ottoman times, it was just a foot path. When the British came to Jerusalem in 1917, the Prophets Street was paved and along with it its tributaries. Originally named Abyssinian Street by the British, the name was later changed to Ethiopia Street.
Building on the street started in the 19th century, when Ethiopia was under the reign of Emperor Melenik II (1844 – 1913) who reigned Ethiopia from 1889-1909. Along with his Empress Consort, Taytu Betul (c. 1851-1919), Melenik II built over a dozen beautiful buildings in Jerusalem. This entire area was call the Habash Neighborhood (named after the Al-Habash on the Horn of Africa).
Ethiopia is one of the most ancient of Christian communities in the world. Some say that it dates back as far as Philip the Evangelist and the 1st century. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has deep ties to Jerusalem. Ethiopian monks came to the Holy Land in the 5th Century and were originally located in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and later on in the new city (more about that in a future post).
The church on Ethiopian street was initiated in 1882 after receiving Ottoman permission and built in 1884 by the Emperor Johannes and is called Kidane Miharat (Covenant of Mercy) in a beautiful area called Dibra Ganet (Mount of Heaven); it was finally opened in 1893.
The blessing on the gate says: “This church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was opened by His Majesty, King of Kings of Ethiopia Johannes in the year of St. Mark, 1874.” Since the date is from the Ethiopian calendar, it is actually 1882 by the Gregorian calendar.
The church has a black dome with an Ethiopian cross on the top and is round. There are two entrances: one for men and one for women.
I really love the inside, the light is fantastic. In these shots you can see the round structure and drums which are used in ceremonies.
I was really lucky to catch this shot of a monk studying. The entire place was very peaceful
.Next to the compound, at number 8, is the former Ethiopian consulate. I loved the royal symbol at the top of the building.
In the church compound, I found another royal symbol.
There are other beautiful buildings on the street, but they are all difficult to see as they are behind fences. There are so many beautiful buildings and lovely alley ways.
One of the interesting ones is the house where Eliezer Ben Yehuda lived and died (number 11). Ben Yehuda brought the Hebrew language back to life in the early part of the 20th century. He died of tuberculosis in this house.
I specifically liked the balcony!