- Location: In northern Ethiopia
- Attraction Type: Historic City
- Significance: A superlative settlement of buildings in Portuguese and European architecture
- Best Time to Visit: All through the year
- How to Reach: by flights from Addis Ababa; alternatively by bus from Addis Ababa and other important Ethiopian towns
- Nearest Airport: Gonder Airport
Gonder is famous as the old capital of imperial Ethiopia and also the capital of Begemder province. Located between the Simien Mountains to its northeast and Lake Tana to its south, Gonder in Ethiopia is a charming destination at any time of the year. Not only for its natural beauty, but Gonder is also renowned for its cultural and economic significance. Portuguese architecture profoundly found in this place is an aspect to explore in this Ethiopian city.
The beginning of Gonder goes back to the third decade of the 17th century when Emperor Fasilides developed this agricultural land into a market town. According to popular belief, a buffalo led the emperor to a pool near Angereb where he met an old hermit. The hermit indicated to the emperor that he should build his capital near this pool. Accordingly, Fasilides had the pool filled in and constructed his castle. The emperor also set up seven churches among which Fit Abbo and Fit Mikael were constructed to end epidemics.
Subsequently, Gonder thrived during the rule of Iyasu the Great in the latter half of the 17th century. Till about the middle of the 19th century, Gonder served as the Ethiopian capital after which it was ravaged and plundered in the 1860s and late 1880s. During the Ethiopian civil war which began in the late 1970s and extended till 1991, Gonder was captured by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.
The Royal Enclosure is the most illustrious of all the sites in Gonder. Explore Iyasu’s Palace, Fasilides Castle, Mentewab’s Castle, Dawit’s Hall, a library and a chancellery within this enclosure. The Fasiladas’ Bath near the city is the venue for an annual celebration following which the bath is made open to the public. Downtown Gonder is also an interesting discovery for Italian architecture which you would find very amazing.
An expedition to Simien Mountains is a very popular activity from Gonder. After a bus ride to Debark you could trek the Simien Mountains or explore the locality on a mule or horseback. The walled city of Fasil Ghebbi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also a marvelous trip from Gonder.
Staying in Gonder
During your visit to Gonder, you might accommodate yourself in Roman Hotel, Circle Hotel, or Meat House. Roman Hotel also serves excellent meat recipes.