Gondar Castles

Gondar Holidays

Gondar's enchanting 17th century castles (Courtesy Ethiopian Tourism Organisation)

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The former capital of Ethiopia is perhaps best known for the remarkable 17th century castles

Best known for its enchanting 17th Century castles, Gondar is also a gateway to the Simien Mountains

One of the main stops on the Northern Historical Circuit, Gondar is explored with your guide and we generally dedicate either a full or half day here, depending on your interest. Gondar tours start with a visit to the compound which houses the remains of the castles of King Fasilidies and his lineage. Dating back to 1635, when Fasilidies made Gondar his capital city, these castles are the reason Gondar is known as “Africa’s Camelot”. There is certainly a fairytale element to them. With six castles to visit, the Gondar castles tour takes between two and three hours with an informative guide joining you throughout.

Equally intriguing is a visit to Fasilidies’ Pool, a large sunken bathing pool within a walled compound and overlooked by a building reputed to be his “summer” residence. The pool is empty and disused for much of the year, but comes to life during the colourful Timkat celebrations in mid-January when worshippers from around Ethiopia come to blessed by priests with the waters of the pool. For those so inclined there is also the chance to visit Woleka, a small Jewish settlement on the outskirts of Gondar, where you can learn more about the stories of Jews living in Israel.

Beyond the historical monuments, Gondar is a pleasant town, with a more laid-back feel than many others in Northern Ethiopia, albeit with plenty still going on. There are some excellent local restaurants to enjoy on a tailor made Gondar holiday, many of which also have traditional dancing on show and a good range of places to stay. Linked by air with Addis Ababa, Axum and Lalibela, Gondar is one of the more accessible towns on Ethiopia’s Northern Circuit and can also be reached by road from Bahir Dar. It’s also the starting point for visits into the beautiful Simien Mountains.

Our favourite Gondar hotels and lodges

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