Ethiopian Consulate and Church

The 90-room structure was erected on a plot of land purchased by the Ethiopian dynasty in the 1920s.

church 88 (photo credit: )
church 88
(photo credit: )
The former Ethiopian Consulate is one of the more memorable buildings on Rehov Hanevi'im. Its elegantly designed exterior features picturesque window settings and porcelain decorations, the most striking of which is the symbol of the Ethiopian royal family, a lion bearing a cross alongside an inscription in Ge'ez (the ancient Semitic dialect in which Ethiopian Christians pray) proclaiming "The Lion of Judah is victorious." The impressive 90-room structure was erected on a plot of land purchased by the Ethiopian dynasty in the 1920s, at the suggestion of one of the country's noblewomen, who had recently returned from a visit to the Holy City. However, the Ethiopian presence in Jerusalem dates back long before this, according to some sources to as early as the Byzantine period. The city holds a special significance in Ethiopian tradition, which holds that the Queen of Sheba conceived a son with King Solomon upon visiting him in Jerusalem, who was called Menelik and became the founder of the Ethiopian royal dynasty. According to this tradition, King Solomon presented the Queen of Sheba with the banner of Judah during her visit, thus establishing it as the symbol of the Ethiopian royal family. In 1882, thanks to the generous investments of then Ethiopian Emperor Johannes IV, the Ethiopian community was able to construct the Kadne-Maharet (Covenant of Mercy) Church on what is now known as Ethiopia Street, right off Hanevi'im. Today the church, along with the former consulate, are the landmarks by which the tiny Christian Ethiopian community, which inhabits the area between them, is identified. Ethiopia was occupied by Italy from 1936-1941 and although the Italians attempted to gain ownership of Ethiopian property abroad, the building remained in Ethiopian possession. It served as the Ethiopian Consulate from the establishment of the State of Israel until 1974, when Ethiopia severed diplomatic ties with Israel after a Marxist military coup took control of the country, deposing the last Ethiopian king, Haile Selassie I. Although Ethiopian-Israeli diplomatic relations resumed in 1989, today the structure is divided into apartments and rented out.