Fasiledes Castle

Fasildes Castle

Fasilides Castle, Gondar

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The reign of Fasiledas (1632-1667) was notable for his decision in 1636 to establish his permanent residence at Gondar, a place which his father, Susneyos, had already used for a time as the seat of Government. The establishment of a fixed capital was a significant departure from tradition, for it had become customary for the Emperor’s headquarters to move from place to place every few years. Gondar rapidly emerged as an important political and economic center and had a profound influence on Ethiopian History. Larger by far than any other town it was also culturally the most important: architecture, music and poetry, literature, painting and calligraphy flourished.


Library of Emperor Yohannes I

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The splendid buildings of Gondar were of brown basalt with ornament of local wine-colored tuff. Their fortress-like appearance and the use of mortar were new to Ethiopia, but the buildings contained traditional architectural features harking back to Aksum in pre-Christian and Christian times, to the rock hewn churches of Lalibela and to other earlier and later structures. As time passed the style to building developed from the rugged grandeur of the Fasiladas castle to the elegance of the palace of the Empress Mentuab in Gondar itself and, nearby, to her residence and the monastic church at Qesquam. The stately architecture was often adorned by beautiful paintings, and handsome illuminated manuscripts were made for the churches and nobles. In poetry and music, which were always associated, the school of Gondar became pre-eminent having no rival save that of nearby Wadela. The city of Gondar was renowned for its secular songs and several Gondarine poets achieved a nation-wiede reputation.

Swimming pool

Fasilides's swimming pool, during Timket

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