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  • The Gondar Castle – The Hallmark Of Medieval Architecture

    Thu, Dec 10, 2009


    Gondar Castle rings the bell! The lord of rings has Kingdom of Gondor a fiction of JR Tolkien. Ethiopia has the Gondar Castle’s that has saga of history and blood shed on its walls though a marvelous and magnificent  structure of medieval time that hooks us to transport us to reign Emperor Fasilidas. The Castle stands strong with its chronologies and fine architecture that’s not a myth but a historical significance for ancient art and architecture.

    In the shadow of the Twin Mountains at an altitude of more than 2300 meters, Gondar has spectacular view of farmlands and shimmering water of Lake Tana, thirty five kilometers to its south.

    Gondar was founded by Emperor Fasilidas around 1635 as its capital, before this they used to have different camp sites and no capital. It is said that Fasilidas had been given a prophecy which said that it should have capital with city’s name begin with ‘G’. Also a myth says that the king followed a buffalo to a spot at which now stands the Gondar Castle.

    Gondar Castle has annals of rivalries and intrigues of history that elucidates its Art and Architecture of the Castle.

    It was the interest in architecture of King Fasilidas that led to the construction of main Castle in late 1630’s and 1640’s. St Mary’s in Axum, Seven churches, number of bridges and three story pavilions which is sunken bathing area. It is still filled by river Qaha in Timkat season. The design is of medieval origin and decorations of churches in which Debra Berhan Selassie is remarkable masterpiece of Gondarene School of Art. Iyasu the Great Grandson of Fasilidas made the Church Debra Berhan Selassie which is also called the Light of Trinity. Flanked by high walls on raised platform, the interior is exquisitely done with paintings of religious history. Dominating the north wall is Trinity above the crucifixion. The beams have faces of eight angels with different expressions and characteristics. St Mary is depicted in west and in south and in east is Jesus’ life story. St George’s image on white horse done in white and red is in west with other important saints pictures.

    Iyasu’s Castle was masterwork, with decorations with mirrors, ceiling covered in gold leaf and semi precious stones. With and ivory and painting’s of Palm tree the castle was finer the House of Solomon. Though now it has become gutted and eerie, it still shows the pinnacle of art it was.

    As the chronology of Gondar says Iyasu who followed the footsteps of his great grand father, then got into depression coz of death of his favorite concubine. His son Tekla Haimanot then declared himself king and assassinated his father later. From here starts the tale of plots, killings, poisoning and tortures that echoes and reverberates in battlements, tunnels and towers of the castle. Tekla Haimanot was killed in return but following him his successor was desposed and next was poisoned. These Machiavellian plots came to end with Emperor Bakaffa, he brought some control in the kingdom and he also added to the Magnum Opus of Gondar. He contributed 2 fine castles for himself and one for his Empress Menteweb.

    It was Iyasu II the last Gondar emperors the successor of Bakaffas, under him the construction of new range of buildings begin. He developed Kweskwam after Virgin Mary’s Home. This place is now just ruins of three storied castle and walls embedded with bas- reliefs of Ethiopian animals.

    The city was then pivotal center of religion, learning and arts. Poetry, Painting, dance and music thrived here. A poet has expressed himself for Gondar as:

    • Beautiful from its beginnings, Gondar, hope of the wretched!
    • And hope of the Great, Gondar without measure or bounds!
    • 0 dove of John, Gondar, generous-hearted, mother!
    • Gondar, never bowed by affliction!
    • Gondar with its merry name!
    • Gondar, seat of prosperity and of savory food!
    • Gondar, dwelling of King Iyasu and of mighty Bakaffa!
    • Gondar, which emulated the City of David, the land of Salem!
    • She will be a myth unto eternity!

    Yet the Gondar came under threat and invasions from Ahmed Gragn.

    The antique charm with ambience of medieval history Gondor Castle invite loads of visitors per year. The tour de force of modern city today has many picturesque and work of art attractions.

    Now you can see the testaments of Gondar, a historical tour of:

    Ruins of Royal Enclosure where the Emperor’s reigned in it is The Fasillides Castle, Iyasu’s Palace Mentewab’s Castle, Seven Churches built by Fasilides and Dawait’s Hall. It also has a chancellery, Banquet Halls, Libraries and stables.

    The annual ceremony of honor of bathing in Fasiladas Bath, in the Qusguam complex; Ras Mikael Sehul’s Palace and the very famous Debre Berhan Selassie Church.

    Here you can visit Gondar University that has Ethopia’s mai faculty of medicine. You can use the Intercity Bus service for traveling and visiting the sites.

    Also you will find the Italian touch and taste in downtown of Gondar where you come across pizzerias, public building with Italian designing. It was under Italian Occupation during the World War that has given Italian influence to the region.

    Gondar with aura of mystery and never die spirit has bounced back each and every huddle in its step. The City had withstand invasions and distortion of its arts and culture and ruining of its heritage, though like Phoenix it has raised itself from its ashes and now it’s a stunning place to visit for all.

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