Castle, Gondar, Amhara, Ehtiopia


Gondar was once the imperial capital of Ethiopia situated north of Lake Tana. Founded by Emperor Fasilidas around 1635, Gondar is famous for its medieval castles and the design and decoration of its churches - in particular, Debra Berhan Selassie, which represents a masterpiece of the Gondarene School of Art. It is sometimes, somewhat poetically, referred to as the Camelot of Africa.

Gondar traditionally was divided into several neighborhoods or quarters, Addis Alem, where the Moslem inhabitants dwelled, Kayla Meda, where the adherents of Beta Israel lived, Abun Bet, centered on the residence of the Abuna, or nominal head of the Ethiopian Church; and Qagn Bet, home to the nobility.

The modern city of Gondar is admired for its many picturesque ruins in the Royal Enclosure, from which the Emperors once reigned. The most famous buildings in the city lie in the Royal Enclosure, which include Fasilides’ castle, Iyasu's Palace, Dawit's Hall, a banqueting hall, stables, Mentewab's Castle, a chancellery, library and three churches.  Downtown Gondar shows the influence of the Italian occupation of the late 1930s. The main piazza features shops and other public buildings in a simplified Italian contemporary style still characterised by the period despite later changes and, frequently, neglect.

Like Axum, Gondar accomodation is limited. We would recommend the Goha hotel situated on the hill overlooking the town. It is however another of the government run hotels like the Yeha in Axum and on occasion you may find there is no hot water nor electricity. The meals can be a little uninspired, but you can always make your way to the heart of town to enjoy a meal in a local establishment.

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