Lake Tana and
is 50 kilometres north of Lake Tana, 500 kilometres north of
and nestles in the foothills of the Simien mountains at 2,200
metres above sea level. Gondor was the capital of Ethiopia from
the rise of Fasilades to the fall of Tewodros (1855-68) which is
reflected in the
many castles and
palaces in the city.
The city's main imperial precinct, known as the Royal Enclosure,
covers an area of 7.7 hectares and contains five castles, raised
walkways and connecting tunnels surrounded by high stone walls.
The oldest of these is the Castle of Fasilades. Built of stone in
the mid-17th century it reflects a number of influences, Axumite,
Portuguese and Indian. The upper storey offers panoramic views and
Lake Tana is visible on a clear day. The castle has been renovated
Fasilades grandson, Lyasu the great, built his own castle and
decorated it with ivory, gold and precious stones but an
earthquake in the early 19th caused severe damage.
The palace of Ras Beit, was built in the 18th century as a private
residence of the famous king maker, Ras Mikael Sehul and has been
in continuos occupation ever since.
Bath of Fasilades is a sunken pool still used for the Timkat
Festival in January.
Jelli Hotel, clean, good value with views of the castles.
Fasilades, on the airport road. Clean and friendly, safe parking
for vehicles and a good restaurant.
Patrice Lumumba, close to the piazza/telecommunications bldg (near
the Misrak), the sign is in Amharic You can barter over the price
of the hotel, restaurant attached.
Yimam, good value and with a restaurant next door. Also has safe
parking facility for vehicles.
There are many other E-grade range hotels in the vicinity of the
Fagera Hotel, basic, originally built by one of Mussolini's
fascists as a villa, spacious rooms.
Misrak Pension, Woreda 1, Kebeale 2, No 217, PO Box 391.
Where to Eat
Quara Hotel, government run hotel with restaurant. Good value.
Tele Club, next to the stairs of the Post Office -coffee, bread,
Ethiopia Cafe, charming, old fashioned, ground floor of hotel,
packed all day, excellent coffee.
There are many other cheap cafes in the city centre. Many of the
cheap hotels also offer food.
Getting There and
Ethiopian Airways, PO Box 130, Tel. 08-110129, flies daily to
Gondar. Airport is 17 kilometres from town. You are recommended to
book/confirm onward flights at the Ethiopian Airlines office in
Gonda (because office has computers -there's nothing computerized
in either Axum or Lalibela.
Route from Addis is via Bahar Dar and the whole journey is 600
kilometres Travel is difficult in
June-september when the rains are heavy. it is realistic to allow
3 days for the journey there, with stops in Debre Markos or Dejen
and Bahar Dar. There are regular buses running along this route.
From Bahar Dar the journey takes 5 hours. There is now a direct
bus service between Gondar and Shire (Inda silase) leaving at 0630
from both Gondar and Shire. However if the bus fills up before the
planned departure time, it leaves; so arrive by at least 0530. The
journey takes about 11 hours and there is a stop at Debark
(4 hours from
There are banks which will change money in Gondar.