Cathedral of Danqaz (ruins)

Cathedral of Danqaz (ruins)

Danqaz, East Africa, including Ethiopia, Ethiopia

Religious Architecture

The construction programme for the Cathedral of Danqaz, in a Latin cross-shape plan, seems to have been drawn from an architectural treatise. Its architect attempted to build the best in construction and architectonic terms: this would be the location of the first (and, after all, only) Catholic capital of Ethiopia.
It was probably created in 1625, designed by the priest and architect João Martins, a Jesuit who had already worked on the Church of Mertule Maryam and would lead the construction work on that of Gorgora Nova. The work was concluded and the first mass was celebrated in 1628. The church is only 27 metres long and the arches of the transept are still standing. The barrel vaults, with embellished stone coffers (recalling the Goan system of the major undertakings of Indo-Portuguese religious architecture along Baroque lines), are almost completely in ruins. We can only find, in the area of the main altar, small parts of the beautiful stonework that was transferred to that place. On top of the epistle side, on the north-western arm of the transept, we can also find the remains of a composition of a renaissance altar, inducing a reading of great European stylistic perfection. Attached to the clear shape of the Latin cross, several masonry walls remain, providing information on the importance of an archaeological intervention, which might eventually be revealing.

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