Gondar was the historic home of Ethiopian emperors and princesses, and the remnants of their ancient castles still tower above the city to this day. While it is often romantically described as Africa’s Camelot, the legends of Gondar are all rooted in fact.
The 17th-century walled city of Fasil Ghebbi was the former Royal Enclosure. It was dotted with picturesque palaces, churches and monasteries. Just a few highlights of this UNESCO World Heritage Site include the paintings in the church of Debre Sina Maryam, which are some of the oldest in Ethiopia, and the magnificent wall art and ‘ceiling of angels’ found in Debre Birhan Selassie.
Gondar makes an excellent base for day trips to explore the nearby Simien Mountains, which are part of the Ethiopian Highlands. We recommend visiting around the 19th of January during the epiphany festival Timkat. At this time you can witness an enthralling re-enactment of the first baptism at Fasiladas’ Bath, once used as a royal swimming pool. And after the ceremony, you can join the crowds of worshippers as they jump in for a refreshing dip.