About Gondar city
Gondar city is blessed with a long history and a diverse and rich culture. Gondar and its surroundings served as the centre of the Christian Ethiopian kingdom for over two hundred years, from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century. The city is proudly one of the major tourist destinations of the country and one of the obligate stops in the ‘Historic Route’, which also comprises visists to Harar, Lalibela and Aksum.
Gondar boosts a rich built heritage unique in subsaharian Africa as well as world-wide famous intangible traditions. Among the built heritage stand its castles, built between the mid-seventeenth to the mid-eighteenth centuries, which are included in the UNESCO world heritage list. The castles include the superb Fasil Ghimb, the elegant palaces of Queen Mentewab and the monumental U-shaped Hall of King Bekaffa. Famous historical churches of the city are Attatami Mikael, Debre Birhan Sillase (‘Mount of Light of the Trinity’) and Yohannes Mitmaq (‘John the Baptist’). Chief among Gondar’s intangible traditions is the colourful festival of Timkat (‘Epiphany’), which during the central weeks of January (Ter in Ethiopia’s calendar) congregates hundreds of thousands of faithful to its streets, churches and parks. During the brief Italian occupation, from 1936 to 1941, Gondar became the capital of the huge Amhara province. To provide for the political, administrative and military needs of the city the Italians built several buildings that today are interesting examples of colonial modernist style; these buildings can be visited in the modern districts built around the Piasa and Biluko areas.