Palace sights in Gonder
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It's hard not to notice Gonder's impressive Royal Enclosure, with its castles and high stone walls sitting streetside. The entire 70,000-sq-metre site (also known as Fasil Ghebbi) was declared a World Heritage site by Unesco in 1979.
Free 90-minute guided tours (a tip will be expected) are worthwhile and available weekdays. On weekends, you can hire a local licensed guide near the gate.
Almost completely restored with the help of Unesco, Fasiladas' Palace (in the compound's south) is the oldest and most impressive castle. It stands 32m tall and has a crenulated parapet and four domed towers. Made of roughly hewn stones, it's reputedly the work of an Indian architect, and…
Almost completely restored with the help of Unesco, the Palace of Fasiladas is the Royal Enclosure's oldest and most impressive castle. It stands 32m tall and has a crenulated parapet and four domed towers. Made of roughly hewn stones, it's reputedly the work of an Indian architect, and shows an unusual synthesis of Indian, Portuguese, Moorish and Aksumite influences.
The main floor was used as a dining hall and formal reception area; note the recessed Star of David above several doorways, which trumpet Fasiladas' link to the Solomonic dynasty. The small room in the northern corner boasts its original beam ceiling and some faint frescoes.
On the 1st floor, Fasiladas'…
To the northeast of Fasiladas' Palace is the saddle-shaped Palace Of Iyasu I. The son of Yohannes I, Iyasu I (r 1682-1706) is considered the greatest ruler of the Gonderine period. Iyasu's Palace was unusual for its vaulted ceiling. The palace used to be sumptuously decorated with gilded Venetian mirrors and chairs, and gold leaf, ivory and beautiful paintings adorning the walls. Visiting travellers described the palace as 'more beautiful than Solomon's house'.
Although a 1704 earthquake and British bombing in the 1940s have done away with the interior and roof, its skeletal shell reeks of history.