Being one of the ancient Ethiopian towns, Debre Tabor was the center of government for some time during the reign of Emperor Tewodros II (1855-1868). It is also known that Emperor Yohannes IV built his palace 9 kms east of the town, by the side of Gafat on a hill called Semernah. The ruins of the palace are still exists. Moreover, the ruins of Aringo Palace, which is said to be built by Emperor Susenyos, are found 12 kms south- west of Debre Tabor city.
The only relics of Debre Tabor’s heyday are two old churches. The first is, Debre Tabor Iyesus, located at south of Debre Tabor at the top of a mountain. The church is said to be built before 600 year, in the 14th century during the reign of Emperor Seife Areid. The present feature of the building indicates that restoration has been conducted different times on it.
Debre Tabor Iyesus Church
In the church’s courtyard is found the grave of the Great Ras Gugsa Mersa. Emperor Menelik and Queen Zewditu’s two bed like thrones and other several heritages are housed in the church. The second old historical church is Debre Tabor Maryam, constructed with the support of Tewodros II in the 1860s.
The hamlet of Gafat is associated with the most critical and bizarre episode in Tewodros’s II (1855-1868) reign-the hostage taking of missionaries who were then forced to manufacture a cannon. Tewodros’s dream became true and different- sized cannons were produced by these foreign nationals for the first time in Gafat. Although the cannons are not functional today, the remains of those which had been transported from Gafat during the Emperor’s fight with Britain are still found in Mekdela high lands over 100km away. To get to Gafat, one must drive for or walk 2km along the main road east of Debre Tabor, then follow a rough road towards the northern direction. In Gafat where cannons and other artilleries were made, the metal Pieces found in places which are still called ‘Yekesel Bet’ (House of Charcoal) and ‘Yeferes Bet’ (House of Horses) and others are reminiscent of its historic past.