We have just passed into the realm of Gonder

Last weekend Andreas and I took an overnight trip to Gonder (also spelled Gondar) in northwestern Ethiopia. Alekka had already visited Gonder on a school trip so she opted to stay home and work on her Extended Essay.

Gonder was the capital of the Ethiopian empire from 1635 to 1855. The main sightseeing attraction is the Royal Enclosure, where Emperor Fasilidas built the first and largest of the city’s castles. His successors built a series of smaller castles and other structures nearby in the same compound.

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Another impressive sight is the late 18th century church of Debre Birhan Selassie. The church is completely covered inside with paintings of saints, martyrs, and the Virgin Mary. This is where you find the famous angel face ceiling. Dervishes from Sudan destroyed almost all of Gonder’s churches in the 1880s but this one survived because a swarm of bees chased away the invaders.

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We also visited Fasilidas’ Bath, a large deep pool with a palace in the middle of it. The pool is empty most of the year, but they fill it for the local Timket celebration in January.

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More Gonder photos coming in the next post.


About lornaofarabia

I am a teacher from Medford, Oregon. I currently live and work in Bangkok, Thailand.
This entry was posted in Around Ethiopia, Ethiopia and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to We have just passed into the realm of Gonder

  1. albertoenriquez1 says:

    Hi Lorna! You’ve probably seen the depiction of the Holy Trinity as identical triplets previously at the Mission Dolores in San Francisco. They all look like our familiar depiction of a gentle bearded Jesus, but each clothed in cloaks of different colors, red, white and blue respectively! They are further distinguished superhero style by emblems on their chests. The blue cloak on the left figure has a white paschal lamb. The red cloak on the right bears a white dove. The central cloak has a blazing sun as its emblem. The central figure holds a crown in both hands, and the figures to each side, also have a hand upon it, presumably showing co-equal status. However, a kneeling Mary floats directly below this crown, uplifted by a cloud and a host of cherubs. It leaves it open to interpretation whether the figures mean to crown the woman. Or somehow share their sovereignty with her. I found this bit of iconography rather stunning when I first saw it at Mission Dolores years ago. I wondered if this was part of a wider tradition, or one artist’s interpretation, because despite being reared Catholic, I’d never seen the like. I guess you’ve just answered that question. Any tradition linking Ethiopia & Mission Dolores is indeed farflung!Hope you & yours are well,Alberto

    Date: Tue, 27 May 2014 11:54:42 +0000 To: albertoenriquez@hotmail.com

    • Wow, how interesting! I grew up around San Francisco but I’ve never visited the mission. I’ll definitely want to see that next time I’m in the City. Hope all is well with you and the family, too.

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