First of all thats Gondar Castles, not Gondor from Lord of the Rings. Although it’s easy to see that Tolkien could have gotten some inspiration from the castles.
Gondar is idyllically situated in the highlands of Ethiopia, south of the Simien Mountains, and north of Lake Tana. It was the capital of an old kingdom and at its heart are it’s Gondar Castles.
There is one main castle complex right in the centre of the city. Over the centuries in old times successive kings built there own castles and expanded upon the castles already there.
They are some of the most impressive in Africa and look like they should be part of a fantasy book, hence the Camelot reference when some people talk about them in Ethiopia, Camelot being legendary King Arthurs castle.
Although there was no fantasy in Gondar, it was real as it gets.
Wandering around you could just imagine all the old kings and there elite soldiers.
Merry feasting halls full of drinking and celebration and all the pomp and grandeur of royalty.
Gondar grew in power in the 17th century with vast wealth. South was lots of gold and to the north were the trade routes with the red sea.
It sat in the perfect spot in-between.
Gondar eventually fell into ruin in the late 19th century due to political instability, and raids from surrounding enemies. During World War Two Gondar was bombed by the Italian and British forces which damaged some castles.
Nearby Gondar’s Castles is a peaceful church full of old murals on the walls. A priest will show you around, and explain many things about the history of Gondar.
Gondar can be visited easily by a flight from the capital Addis Ababa, or it’s a 12 hour bus journey. It is 150 birr, about 7 US dollars, to enter the castle complex.
If your in Ethiopia it’s definitely worth a visit.
Have a read of my complete travel guide to Ethiopia.
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