Gondar city is referred to as the Camelot of Africa because of the way that it was constructed and the beauty that it emits.
Many tourists have visited the city just so that they get a proper look at the city which is also known as the city of royal blood and this name came about because most emperors of Ethiopia resided in this city and their mark can be felt by anyone who visits the city. When visiting Ethiopia, many people look at animals and other things but never think about the castles that are hidden within the country and this is where Gondar city comes in. it’s a home to the famous Fasiladas castle which was constructed by the Emperor Fasiladas and many churches which were constructed by different emperors.
How was Gondar city formed?
Gondar city was formed one of Ethiopia’s Emperors known as Emperor Fasiladas in the 16th century. The Gondar city is extremely fertile and that is why the emperor chose it and settled here. There is a legend that the emperor was led to the place by a raging buffalo to the pool in the area and when he got there, he was advised by a wise man who told him that he would prosper if he built his city there and that is exactly what he did. The pool was filled and then construction of the castle started and that is how the Gondar city was built. When the construction of the palace was done, the emperor also built churches during his time and that is why you will find several churches in the Gondar city.
The Simiens Mountains are located en-route the Gondar city and with the beautiful scenery it gives off, you do not want to miss a trek to the Mountain. There are tour guides who can help you with trekking because it is illegal for one to go for trekking especially if you are alone. The only time you are allowed to go for trekking is if you have a trained tour guide who is experienced.
After trekking up the Mountain if you still have time, you can also visit the Simiens Mountain National Park which is located next to the Mountain. While here you will be able to carry out different activities like hiking, wild life watching due to the presence of different species of animals and birding.
Ethiopia is known to be a top birding destination because of the large number of birds that are found in the different parks and the Bales National Park is one of the top birding spots in the country. There are several birding routes that you can use when you visit the Bale National Park where you will be able to view the various bird species.
The Woleka village is located in Gondar city and it is just five kilometers away from the road and it takes just an hour to get to the village. It has good scenery that can be viewed as you head into the village and you will also get to meet the locals who are always welcoming to all visitors who go to their village. The woleka village locals also make adornments, beads, embroidered clothes and other things that you can buy from the souvenir shops and take them back with you after a tour to Ethiopia.
The royal enclosure is a museum which has been used to show the rich culture of Ethiopia’s Emperors. There are different buildings that make up the royal enclosure and some of these include the banqueting hall, Dawit III hall and Empress Mentewab’s castle, there are also three churches, the Fasilides, and the Iyasu palace. Although some of the buildings were destroyed during the liberation war, there is still so much to see when you visit the royal enclosure especially if you want to know more about the Emperors of the country.
Debre Birhan Selassie church
The original Selassie church was constructed during the 17th century but it was later destroyed although it is hard to get the details of how and why it was destroyed and a new church was built during the 18th Century and surprisingly it survived the attack from the Sudanese during the liberation war. When you visit the place you will learn more about the liberation war and the people of Ethiopia, get to see the beautiful decorations that adorn the inside of the church and the ceiling that is decorated with angels and you will also get to see the magnificent twelve pillars that guard the church and it is common knowledge that the twelve pillars represent the twelve disciples of Jesus.
The Fasilides Bath was constructed by the king Fasilides and that is where the bath got its name from. The bath is sometimes known as the Fasilides swimming pool and it receives its water from a river nearby making it a good place for one to rest. The water from the bath is used by the Orthodox Church during the epiphany celebrations which normally take place in January. The pool is sometimes dry especially during a season which is referred to as the sanitary season and after this, it is refilled throughout the year.
Mentewab was the wife of the wife of the Emperor Bakaffa and during their reign, the empress led to the construction of the castle and other buildings that are near the castle and they are named after the house and place where Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus stayed when they were being hunted down by King Herold many centuries ago. A visit to the Mentewab castle will fill you with the knowledge and history of Ethiopia and more about the Emperor and Empress who constructed the castle and it will also take you back in time as they are all built using mediaeval methods.
Kidame Gebya market
The Kidame market is one of the places to visit when you visit the Gondar city. It has everything that you will need from fruits, vegetables, clothes and other products that you can get from a market. It is always open throughout the week and can be visited any time during day but the busiest day is Saturday and that is why you will find a lot of chaos in the market on Saturdays. If you do not mind the chaos you can pass by on Saturday but be mindful of your property and if you love your peace and quiet, then the best day to visit the market is Sunday because there will not be a lot of people on this day.
Best time to visit the Gondar
The best time as to when one should visit Gondar highly depends on the weather and the activities that one wants to carry out when they visit the city and below is an estimated guess on when to visit the Gondar city.
If you are not a fan of the hot weather, then the best time to visit the Gondar city is from July to September. The temperatures are average and you can enjoy many outdoor activities without experiencing hot temperatures.
The hot weather in Gondar city takes place between the months of February and May. Therefore if you can brave the hot weather you can visit the area and enjoy the activities that are carried out within these months.
For all those that love nature and outdoor activities, the best months to visit the Gondar city are from October to April. The weather during these months is low and there are no rains and no heavy sunshine.
If you love festivals, then the best month to visit the Gondar is January as it is the same month where the locals celebrate the epiphany day.
How to reach Gondar
There are two options of transportation when it comes to travelling to the Gondar city and these are either by road or air transport.
Road transportation is easily accessible that is you can use a tour van which will take you through the Simiens Mountain National Park where you get to enjoy the scenic view given off by the Mountain and some few tourist attractions that are located in Axum.
Air transportation is also readily available and fast although it might be a bit expensive as compared to the road transport. The Gondar city has an operational airport and this helps the tourists get around easily from other different cities like Addis Ababa, Axum and Lalibela. The only downside about using air transport is that sometimes the flights are cancelled without prior notice to the tourists.