Even though the Fasil Ghebbi or Royal Enclosure is surrounded by a low wall, it is hard to miss seeing the towers of the palaces inside upon entering Gonder. Something else to strike you, is the more relaxed and friendly atmosphere in this former capital of Ethiopia, as compared to other cities in these parts of Ethiopia like Bahir Dar or Axum. Since the light was outright bad when we arrived, we decided to wait until the last possible moment to buy our ticket and enter the royal compound. Stepping inside means stepping back in time, you leave modern-day Gonder behind and walk where royals were walking centuries ago.
So this is where emperor Fasilidas founded the city in 1635, a relatively new ex-capital as compared to others in Ethiopia. Gonder would remain the capital of Ethiopia until the second half of the 19th century. Inside the enclosure, you can find six castles and several other, smaller buildings, all standing proudly in well-kept lawn. While most are quite well-kept or well restored, the most outstanding castle is the Fasilidas Castle, which is a product of fusion of Portuguese, Axumite and Indian influences. It looks just like the perfect castle from the outside; inside, you can marvel at enormous rooms. Unfortunately, it was impossible to visit the top floor which should have a great view of the surroundings.
Unfortunately, some other castles are damaged because of earthquakes, bombardments in World War II, or both. Still, the Fasil Ghebbi is a romantic place, remarkably also so for Ethiopian visitors. Large birds like vultures circle the skies above the Fasil Ghebbi, and add to the special feeling that this place provokes in the visitor. Especially the great late afternoon light, combined with fantastic cloudy sky, made our visit to the Royal Enclosure a very enjoyable one.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Fasil Ghebbi (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Fasil Ghebbi.
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