Sunday, February 06, 2005

Gondar the Camelot of Ethiopia

Gondar the Camelot of Ethiopia - Includes legends associated with Gondar, comparisons to Camelot, description of its castles, Fasiladas and other rulers of the Gondar Period, and medieval paintings. Also has pictures of castles and paintings. The format of the text is strange but it is readable if you work at it.

From the site:

Gondar, founded by Emperor Fasilidas around 1635, is famous for its many medieval castles and the design and decoration of its churches - in particular, Debra Berhan Selassie which represents a masterpiece of the Gondarene school of art.

Famous though Gondar may be, however, no one knows exactly why Fasilidas chose to establish his headquarters there. Some legends say an archangel prophesied that an Ethiopian capital would be built at a place with a name that began with the letter G. The legend led to a whole series of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century towns - Guzara, Gorgora and finally Gondar. Another legend claims that the city was built in a place chosen by God. Apparently, He pointed it out to Fasilidas who was on a hunting expedition and followed a buffalo to the spot.

Flanked by twin mountain streams at an altitude of more than 2,300 meters Gondar commands spectacular views over farmlands to the gleaming waters of Lake Tana thirty-five kilometers to the south. The city retains an atmosphere of antique charm mingled with an aura of mystery and violence. An extensive compound, near its center contains the hulking ruins of a group of imposing castles like some African Camelot. The battlements and towers evoke images of chivalrous knights on horseback and of ceremonies laden with pageantry and honor. Other, darker, reverberations recall chilling echoes of Machiavellian plots and intrigues, tortures and poisonings.

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