The Medieval capital of Ethiopia. Gondar was the capital of Ethiopia between the 17th and 19th century. It became the royal capital in 1636, in the time of Emperor Fasildes, who built the first and most famous of the castles.

The establishment of the city marked a major turning point in Ethiopia’s long history. For the previous half millennium, the country had been without long-enduring capital and its rulers had indeed spent much of their times marching from camp to camp until their last resting place. The emergence of Gondar marked the end of this era of moving capitals for the city remained the center of Ethiopian government until the second half of the 19th century.

Emperor Fasiledes erected a fine two-storied castle at Gondar. It is marvelous building, worthy of admiration, and the most beautiful of the outstanding wonders. Another building constructed by Fasiledes was the Bathing place now called after him. The pool is still filled with water each year for the annual Timket, or Epiphany, celebrations. The development of the city which had been begun by Fasiladas was continued by his son, Yohannes I and grandson Iyasu I. These and other kings constructed other castles.

In the hills, north west of the city of Gondar was also a site of numerous impressive buildings. Mintwab, the mother of Iyasu II was instrumental in the construction of these palaces.

The palace is one of the most attractive of the Gondar buildings. Besides a number of places, the town and its surrounding also contain some 44 churches. On the other side of the town of Gondar, crowning a hilltop and surrounded by its wall and grove of trees, found the church of Debre Birhan Selassie.

Built by Iyasu I in the 17th century, it is perhaps the most perfectly preserved church since those days. Its main interest now rests in the interior paintings. The walls and ceiling are decorated with frescoes of angels and saints. The paintings, despite the passing of centuries, seem to burst with exuberant energy and with extravagant life and color.