The city of Gondar, Ethiopia, is located in Ethiopia, 500 kilometers north of Addis Ababa, 35 kilometers from Lake Tana, and in the foothills of the Simien mountains. The city itself dates to the 17th century AD, when it was part was part of the Abyssinian Empire, a capital city founded in 1634 by Emperor Fasilidas. Gondar is now a tourist hot-spot, called “the Camelot of Africa.”
What to see in Gondar
The Royal Compound
Lying within 70,000 m.sq, the Royal Compound encompasses six greater castles and many different purposed buildings like the royal archive, house of the musicians, the lion cage, the horse zoo, the sauna bath, house of the spinners etc. The earliest and grandest of all edifices is that of Emperor Fasiladas, which is 32 meters high and with battlemented square tower. To the North of this castle stand the chancery of Emperor Yohannis I (1667-1682) and a marvelous palace of Iyasu I (1682-1770). The palace of Iyasu was amazingly overstated with ivory, gold, expensive stone etc. To the North West, lies Dawit III’s music hall, Emperor Bakafa’s banquet house and empress Mintwab’s palace. A huge circular wall with 12 gates forms the enclosure. West of Emperor Fasil’s archive, there is the church of Gimjabet Mariam.
The Bath of Emperor Fasiladas
It is a kilometer away to the west of the city. We are told that during the principal of Gondar the bath had been used for sports and religious rites on the day of epiphany. But now it is engaged only for the annual celebration of baptism. Nearby lies the tomb of Emperor Fasiladas’ great horse, Zobil.
The monastery of Debre-Birhan Sillassie, built during the superiority of Iyasu I, is famous especially for its fine frescoes. The upper limit and the beams are painted with rows of winged angels and the wall with inspiring biblical events that reflect the life of Christ, Mary, the Saints and martyrs. The church’s complex is also a botanical garden rich with massive junipers and old olive trees on which birds of different species nest. At the back of the field is a time-honored school where famous clerics of the nation learn church music, writing and binding of parchments.
The Qusquam complex
Founded by Empress Mintwab, the monastery of Qusquam and the ruined palace are located to the west of the town at about three kilometers from the city center. Qusquam was the last flower of Gondar before magnificence of the city wilted due to courtyard intrigues and reproachful civil wars.
The Felasha Village
Situated three kilometers to the north from the city center, the small village of Weleqa was once settled by the Felasha community (Ethiopian Jews). For its history and center of craftsmanship like clay pots.
The old town of Gorgora that lies on the Northern Shore of Lake Tana was the seat of Emperor Susenyos, father of Emperor Fasildas in the early 17thc. Near Gorgora are remarkable monasteries of the 14thc of which Debre Sina Mariam is the most important. The living style of the frugal communities in the Mendaba monastery, the palace of Susenyos and the monument of Mussolini are other wonders. The palace is very shining and surprisingly decorated Standing on a superior hill, the monument of Mussolini offers an stupendous look at Lake Tana and the lush plains of Dembya. It is supposed that it was built as a bonfire for motorboats from the Lake.
Empereor Tsarsa-Dingle, founder of the Gondarine empire in the late 16thc, had built a equipped plaza plan castle on the Guzara hill. It is excellently positioned near the town of Enfranz at the side of Gondar- Bahir Dar highway overlooking the sandy beach of Lake Tana.
Found 30 kilometers from Gondar on the way to Aksum, Kosoye is known for its charming beauty and tradition as a camp when Queen Elisabeth of England visited Ethiopia in 1965. Standing to the west of the village enables to watch the most stunning and gentile escarpment that slops down to the Sudan.
Simien National Park
Simien National Park is a spectacular landscape with high biodiversity. It comprises one of the major mountain massifs of Africa, separated by broad river valleys. A number of peak rise above 4000m, including Ras Dashen.
The stunning landscape of the Simien Mountains is the result of significant seismic activity in the area about 40 million years ago. Molten lava poured out of the Earth’s core reaching a thickness of 3000m.
The mountains are home to three of Ethiopia’s larger endemic mammals: the walia ibex, the more common gelada baboons, and the very rarely seen Ethiopian wolves.