Gondar, which Emperor Fasilides found as his capital in 1632, is the site of numerous castle – like palace, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. The city was Ethiopia’s capital until the reign of emperor Tewodros II, also known as Theodre. During the long years when it was a capital the settlement emerged as one of the largest and most populous, city in the realm. It was a great commercial center .trading with the rich lands south of Blue Nile, as well as with Sudan , o the west , inhabitants include many rich catholic and Muslim merchants , as well as number of Falashas or Judaic Ethiopians also called Bete Israel ,who were predominately weavers, blacksmiths and potters , as well as palace and church builders .besides the famous palaces in the royal compound , visitors should inspect the so-called Bathing palace of Emperor Fasilidas , which is used or the annual Timket , or Epiphany , celebrations ; the ruins o the palace and abbey , of the redoubtable 18th century empress Mewntewab , at Qwesquam ,in the mountains just outside Gonder , and the church Deber Berhan Selassie ,with its remarkable ceiling decorated with winged angels.
Gondar and its medieval period
The historic Gonderine town is very popular mainly because of the marvelous castles in the royal enclosure. There are six graceful castles in the palace compound built by the successive Gonderine Kings of the 17th and 18th centuries. The tradition was first set by Emperor Fassiledes and then followed by his successors. The castle were built from local stone, hard dark brown basalt and red volcanic lava held together with lime mortar within the fortified royal compound at about 70,000 square meters. The 12 symbolic entrances (gates) of the palace compound have various names and represent the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ.