Gondar is north of Ethiopia, an imperial city with castles (it seems not to be Africa) from the XVII century, founded by Emperor Fasilidas in 1635. Three sovereign Fasilidas, Yohannes I and Iyassu marked the splendor of the era, founded on a farming town grew to trade, arts and buildings. It's a pleasure to walk through the ruins and admire these castles.
Gondar, the Simien mountains feet, was founded by Fasilidas in the 17th century, and was a political, administrative, commercial, religious and cultural center for over 250 years. It fell as a result of intrigues and dynasty struggles, was aggravated when Tewodoros II moved the seat of the imperial government to Debre Tabor, 100 km southeast. After, the city was looted by Sudanese Mahdists in the 19th century, and last occupied by Italian fascist troops in WWII. Some structures were damaged by the bombing during the liberation campaign. This is one of the historical sites in Ethiopia. Who would imagine that in SSA you would find some authentic medieval castles? It was the emperor who constructed the 1t Fasilidas, and his successors continued to construct the rest of forts around, churches and baths, to make an architecturally unique areain the country and in Africa. The royal enclosure, Gebbi in the center of the city, is full of castles and ancillary structures: the file, the home of the musicians, the block, the sauna, the bathrooms, the house of the spinners ... all linked by tunnels and corridors, and is surrounded by high walls. For a moment, you forget that you're in the "black continent" and you will be transported to anywhere in Europe, it could be Scotland ... I do not know if it's a good thing or not.
Bet Medhane Alem (House of the Redeemer of the World) is the highest and most extensive of all the churches of Lalibela. Fully carved into the rock, it is 34 meters long by 24 meters wide, and has the honor of being the largest monolithic church in the world. Built in the manner of a Greek temple it is completely surrounded by pillars of square columns. On the stone block are the perfectly divine elements of the temple: Porch, ships, domes, windows and lavish decoration with reliefs form a unique collection. The church is completely surrounded by pillars (following the traditional canons of Axumite period), 18 inside and 18 outside, which for some specialists implies a clear relationship with Hebrew numerology where 18 corresponds with the numerical value of the word jai (life). Inside the church doesn't have pictorial ornamentation but the geometric reliefs of the lower windows combined with alternating semicircular and square windows of the upper zone provide beauty. In one corner, you can see three empty graves which according to tradition were excavated and symbolically held the bodies of the three biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To some historians, this temple is a replica of the Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion originally located in Aksum and destroyed by the Muslims.
We left the Imperial Citadel and went northwest on the road to Bahar Dar, we were just 2 miles away when we aw a rectangular wall that covered an interesting compound. We crossed a wooden gate and saw an old man who was the "guardian" , after a short chat we entered, and saw a tiny building in the "Gondarino style" which had a pair of 2-story towers at the foot that opens a pond or "pool" of about 3,000 square meters, which were the famous baths of Emperor Fasilidas. There are trees in the room, aware of the beauty of the place and merges with the stone wall achieving a magical mixture. The Ethiopian Orthodox Epiphany is celebrated here, known locally as Timkat. (On this feast the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan is celebrated) For the occasion, the pond is filled with water from a nearby river, which as we discussed is an arduous task that can take several hours. On the appointed day the faithful, carefully dressed crowd around the "pool" where they attend the Liturgy, which never misses a copy of the Ark of the Covenant wrapped in a cloth. The highlight of the celebration is when the faithful are immersed in the pool to renew their baptismal promises and purify his soul, the crowd is such that all attendees can immerse themselves in the sacred waters. After the ceremony, the purifying water is returned to its roots and now Fasilides baths deserts, the echo of the chants of the faithful will fade with the passage of time ... the trees in the pond back up again erected in silent and almost only witnesses such beauty and solitude.