Gondar, capital of Ethiopia from the 17th to the mid 19th century, is best known for its medieval castles and palaces, the beautifully decorated church of Debre Birhan Selassie and its Timkat (Epiphany) celebrations.

Why visit Gondar ?

Fasil Ghebbi, or the Royal Enclosure lies at the heart of Gondar, covering 70,000 square meters and containing 6 castles. The most impressive castle is Fasiladas’ Castle, built around 1640, made of stone and a unique combination of Portuguese, Axumite and even Indian influences. The castle is in good condition, it was partially restored in the mid 20th century and again between 1999 and 2002 with UNESCO funding.

The church of Debre Birhan Selassie is the only Gondarine church that survived the 1888 attack on Gondar by the Mahdist of Sudan. Legend has it that a swarm of bees diverted the attackers and thus the church survived. The walls are covered by numerous vivid paintings and the ceiling depicts 80 cherubic faces, the most famous example of ecclesiastical art in Ethopia, much photographed and commonly used in Ethiopian design.

About 2 km out of town is King Fasiladas Bathing Pool, a pool surrounded by a large stone wall with six turrets and overlooked by a two storey building. During Timkat celebrations on the 11th day of Tir (variably between 18 – 20 January) a nearby river is diverted, the pool fills with water and thousands of worshippers converge around the pool where they are blessed and sprinkled with water, thus re-enacting Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan.

Gondar, of course, is also the gateway town to the Simien Mountains National Park




A Visa is required for UK passport holders.

Health Requirements

No mandatory vaccinations are required.

Time Difference

GMT + 3 Hours

Flight Time

7.5hrs Direct


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