Today we drove to Gondar where there are at least 40 churches. . The road was paved all of the way there so no “African Massage” today.
On the way Ayu stopped in a small village along the way so that we could take some photos of the people and their houses. We wandered for about 15 minutes.
We drove for a while and then passed this woman who was making local beer.
A fruit stand along the road.
This woman is drying red peppers.
The load on this donkey looks so bulky but …
…donkeys carrying loads like this is one thing but there are also many people like this person who carry incredible loads themselves.
We saw this tall rock formation in the distance and I used the zoomed to take a photo.
Then we stopped near a group of people to photograph it again.
I think these women came up to the jeep because they wanted money.
The close up of the tree makes the rock formation look small.
We arrived in Gondar in time for lunch and after checking into the Goha Hotel, we drove to The Four Sisters Restaurant where we had a wonderful traditional buffet lunch. All of the items were labeled so it was easy to make choices. I loved the string beans, lamb stew, and lentils – all of which I ate with the injera.
Then we drove to the walled Fasil Ghebbi Fortress. The fortress city functioned as the centre of the Ethiopian government until 1864. It has some twenty palaces, royal buildings, highly decorated churches, monasteries and unique public and private buildings, transformed by the Baroque style brought to Gondar by the Jesuit missionaries. Fasil Ghebbi was the residence of Ethiopian Emperor Alem-Seghed Fasilides (Fasil) and his successors in the 16th and 17th centuries.
We had a wonderful guide named Bekele. Fasilides is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was built during the 17th and 18th centuries. Ethiopian people did all of the work to build the castles.
Emperor Fasilides built the first castle which combines Portuguese, Indian and local architectural styles. The Ethiopian royal family built all the castles within the walls before Gondar lost its power and the capital was moved to Addis Ababa in the late 19th century. The people who actually built all of these places were Ethiopians.
I hope this information is correct. Some of the castles we saw were built by:
- King Easilides built-in 1632. He reined the country for 35 years up to 1637.
- King Fasilides’ fourth son and successor, King Yohannes 1667 – 1682.
- King Iyasu built the third palace from 1682 to 1706.
- King Dawit was the fourth generation or great-grandson of King Fasilides from 1716 to 1730.
Bekele also showed us the:
- Music auditorium
- Turkish Bath (which was quote an amazing structure)
- Lion Cages
- Women’s Vocational School.
The walls surrounding all of the buildings have 12 round towers, which symbolize the 12 Apostles. All of these places were quite amazing.
These are the photos I took.
I was finally able to get a photo of a Pied Crow.
Then Bekele went with us to Debre Berhan Selassie Church. It was built by Emperor Eyasu II (also known as Birhan Seged, “He to Whom the Light Bows”) The name Debre Birhan “Mountain of Light” is after the Emperor’s nickname as well as in honor of the church of the same name in Shewa.
I read that the Mahdist Dervishes of the Sudan sacked the city of Gondar in 1888. They burned down every church in the city except Debre Birhan Selassie. According to local legend, when the Mahdist soldiers approached the church, a swarm of bees descended on the compound of the church and kept the soldiers back, and the Archangel Michael himself stood before the large wooden gates with a flaming sword drawn. The walls depict biblical scenes and saints. Bekele explained many of them to us. The ceiling is covered with the faces of hundreds of angels.
Bekele explained the use of the sistrum, drum, and prayer stick.
Our final destination was the Fasilides Bath. This is where baptisms are performed. Also on January 18th and 19th the people would come to the pool for Timket. The entire pool is filled with water and many, many people get into the pool. The priest splashes others with water from the pool. Timket is an elaborate religious celebration and we hope to see it when we are in Yirgalem on Jan 18th and 19th.
I think that in the time of King Fasilides, he would stand on the platform and talk to the people.
The Banyan trees roots growing around the walls of the pool remind me of the ruins in Angkor Watt, Cambodia.
Bekele told us that many marriages take place at this time of year. When a man sees a woman they admire and throw a lemon towards her. If she likes him, she will catch the lemon and he knows to approach her. If she is not interested, she will not touch the lemon. I think he said that this actually takes place during Timket when they are in the pool.
Bekele was a fantastic guide who was not only very knowledgeable but also very curious. Whenever we said words that he had not heard before, he wrote them down. We exchanged contact information so that I can recommend him on Trip Advisor. And when I got confused about some of the names and dates, he took the time to send information to me through WhatsApp.