The trip brings you to the beautifull castles of Gondar.
It used to be the capital town in the 17th century. Now it is the capital of the Amhara region. Bordering Sudan and located on the northern shore of Lake Tana, it is one of the prominent historical areas here. It lays at an altitude of 2200 meter and is famous for its architectural castles, palaces and churces in the city, builded by the various emperors who reigned between 1632 to 1855.
The 5 castles are all together in an area of 7,7 hectares, surrounded by high stone walls. These dramatic castles, unlike any other in Africa, display a richness in architecture that reveals the Axumite traditions as well as the influence of Arabia. The oldest is the Castle of Fasilades. It shows Indian, Portugese and Axumite influences. When you go to the top, you can see Lake Tana on a clear day.
Officially founded by King Fasiladas in 1632, the Gondarine period is considered to be the third major dynasty after the Axumite and Zagwe dynasties. The dynasty is historically important for the renaissance king's mobile camp and the introduction of a permanent capital. The attempt by King Fasiladas to end the Zagwe dynasty was successful and set Gondar as Ethiopia's capital from 1632 to 1868.
CHURCH OF DEBRE BIRHAN SELASSEE
Gondar was the site of numerous fine churches, a number of which have survived to this day. Perhaps the finest of the Gondarine churches is that ot Debre Birhan Selassie of 'Light of the Trinity", which stands in the north-east.
Other treasures include the 18th century Palace of Ras Beit, the Bath of Fasiladas, the ruined Palace of Kusquam, and the church of Debre Berhan Selassie with its unique murals.
BATH OF FACILADES
Outside town in the Kaha River valley south of the city you find the bathing palace of Facilades. It stands in a rectangular, neatly walled depression, which is filled with water once a year for the Timkat (or Ephiphany) celebrations. Probably this place was built for such celebrations.
An imposing rectangular struture, its ceilings are decorated with beautiful winged angels and the walls have impressive scenes depicting biblical events, including the lives of Christ, Mary, the saints and the martyrs.
TIMKAT - Ephiphany
On the 19th of January of the Western Gregorian calendar is probably the biggest festival of the year. On the eve of Timkat, with great ceremony the sacred tabot - a tablet of wood or stone representative of those contiained in the Ark of the Covenant - is taken from each church and held overhead by a priest up to the central area where the ceremony will take place. Then with even more ceremony, it is returned to its consecrated resting place. During these colourful occasions priests are bedecked in daxxling brocade robes, carry ornate hand crosses, and move under decorated brocade umbrellas. They chant to the accompaniment of solemn drums and the rhythmic clink of sistrums.
In Addis Ababa, many churches are involved. The day before Timkat a whole field is taken over by the ceremony. Tourists are welcome and patient clergy actually help them choose choice observation points for photographing events as the procession leaves the field and slowly parades down the street.
In Lalibella, chanting priests form a dramatic silhouette atop the rock from which the famous chruches below were hewn.
Pre-sunrise rituals are performed around the pool surrounding Fasiladas's Bath.
Everywere the Timkat ceremony is a big celebration.