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Gondar is the one city in Ethiopia’s history that has played the role of the honorable exception between ancient Axum and modern Addis Ababa. It was the only permanent capital to last any considerable length of time. It was founded in 1636 by Emperor Fasiladas and served as the capital city till Tewdros’s time, mid-nineteenth century. Its special distinction is for having the unique Imperial compound that hosts a number of castles built during this period.

The most famous buildings in the city lie in the 17th century royal enclosures, including Fasilades castle, Iyasu’s Palace, Dawit’s Hall, a banqueting hall, stables, Mentewab’s castle, a chancellery, library and three churches. Near the city lie Fasiladas’ bath, home to an annual ceremony where it is blessed and opened for bathing; the Quasquam complex, built by Empres Mentewab; the eighteenth-century Ras Mikael palace and Debre Berhan Selassie church.

Gondar, with its rich history and cultural heritage, offers several fascinating places to visit. Here are some must-see attractions in Gondar, Ethiopia:

  • Fasil Ghebbi: Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Royal Enclosure, a complex of castles, palaces, and other structures that served as the residence for Ethiopian emperors. Each building within the enclosure has unique architectural features and historical significance.
  • Debre Berhan Selassie Church: Visit this iconic church renowned for its vivid frescoes, including the famous “Trinity at the Crucifixion” painting. The church is considered a masterpiece of Ethiopian religious art and played a role in preserving the city during historical invasions.
  • Bath of Fasiladas (Fasiladas’ Bath): Discover the historic pool built by Emperor Fasiladas. The site is central to the annual Timkat (Epiphany) celebration, where thousands gather for a ceremonial reenactment of Jesus’ baptism.
  • Falasha Village (Jewish Quarter): Explore remnants of Gondar’s Jewish heritage in the Falasha Village. While the Jewish community is no longer present, the village provides insights into the multicultural history of the region.
  • Qusquam Church: Venture to this ancient church, known for its unique thatched roof and religious significance. Qusquam Church offers tranquil atmosphere and beautiful surroundings.
  • Empress Mentewab’s Kuskuam Complex: Explore the elaborate palace complex built by Empress Mentewab, featuring a combination of European and Ethiopian architectural styles. The complex includes a bathing pavilion and banquet hall.
  • Fasiladas’ Palace: Visit the ruins of Fasiladas’ Palace, an important structure within the Royal Enclosure. Despite being in ruins, the palace reflects the grandeur of its original construction.
  • Church of Debre Sina Mariam: Explore this medieval church located near Gondar, known for its historical and religious significance. The church is surrounded by scenic landscapes.
  • Local Markets: Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting Gondar’s vibrant markets. Experience the lively atmosphere, interact with locals, and explore the stalls offering traditional crafts, textiles, and spices.

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