Ethiopia (April-May 2012): Gondar

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For centuries until the 16th century, the Solomonic kings of Ethiopia (Abyssinia) used to rule their country from a succession of temporary capitals. In 1636 King Fasiladas founded Gondar, which became the country′s permanent capital for two centuries. The Royal Enclosure, at the heart of modern Gondar, is a 70,000sq.m walled compound of 17th-century castles built by successive kings. The largest and most impressive castle was built by King Fasiladas himself. Located two kilometers north-west of the Royal Enclosure are Fasiladas′ Baths, a large pool with a two-storied tower in its middle. Once a year the pool is filled with water and Christ′s baptism is re-enacted (Timkat). Two kilometers north-east of the Royal Enclosure lies the church of Debre Birhan Selassie (″Debre Birhan″ means ″Mountain of Light″). The original church was built in the late 17th century, but was later destroyed by lightning. So, the current building is more recent and dates from the late 18th century. It contains amazing ceiling and wall paintings. Several buildings erected during the Italian occupation in the 1930s are still standing in Gondar.


The Ethiopia Hotel: an example of Italian architecture of the late 1930s.


Castles in the Royal Enclosure:

King Fasiladas′ castle.





Other castles.


Fasiladas′ Baths:

Unfortunately the pool was empty when I visited.


Trees in the back of the pool.


Debre Birhan Selassie church:

Left: Entrance tower of the church enclosure, whose shape is said to represent the Lion of Judah. Right: Cross carved in a rock inserted in a wall.


Two of the 12 turrets in the enclosure wall. (These turrets symbolize the 12 apostles.)


Views of the exterior of the church.



Left: View of the entrance tower from the church′s peristyle. Center and right: Ceiling of the peristyle.


Rows of several dozen cherubic faces painted on the ceiling inside the church.



Paintings on the interior walls of the church.





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