Until the 16th century, the Solomonic Emperors of Ethiopia usually had no fixed capital, instead living in tents in temporary royal camps as they moved around their realms while their family, bodyguard and retinue devoured surplus crops and cut down nearby trees for firewood. One exception to this rule was Debre Berhan, founded by Zara Yaqob in 1456; Tegulet in Shewa was also essentially the capital during the first century of Solomonic rule.
Beginning with Emperor Menas in 1559, the rulers of
Ethiopia began spending the rainy season near Lake Tana, often returning to the same location again and again. These encampments, which flourished as cities for a short time, include Emfraz, Ayba,Gorgora, and Dankaz.
In 1668, as a result of a church council, the Emperor Yohannes I ordered that the inhabitants of
be segregated by religion. This caused the Muslims to move into their own quarter, Islamge (Ge'ez: እስላምጌ "Islam place," or "Islam country") or Islam Bet (እስላም ቤት "House of Islam," lit. "Islam house"), within two years. This quarter came to be known as Addis Alem. Gondar
During the seventeenth century, the city's population is estimated to have exceeded 60,000. Many of the buildings from this period survive, despite the turmoil of the eighteenth century. By the reign of Iyasu the Great, Gondar had acquired a sense of community identity; when the Emperor called upon the inhabitants to decamp and follow him on his campaign against the Oromo in Damot and Gojjam, as had the court and subjects of earlier emperors, they refused. Although
Gondar was by any definition a city, it was not a melting pot of diverse traditions, nor 's window to the larger world, according to Donald Levine. "It served rather as an agent for the quickened development of the Amhara's own culture. And thus it became a focus of national pride... not as a hotbed of alien custom and immorality, as they often regard Addis Ababa today, but as the most perfect embodiment of their traditional values." As Levine elaborates in a footnote, it was an orthogenetic pattern of development, as distinguished from an heterogenetic one. Ethiopia
The town served as
's capital until Tewodros II moved the Imperial capital to Magadala upon being crowned Emperor in 1855; the city was plundered and burnt in 1864, then devastated again in December, 1866. Abdallahi ibn Muhammad sacked Ethiopia Gondar when he invaded June 1887. Ethiopia was ravaged again in 23 January in the next year, when the Sudanese invaders set fire to almost every one of the city's churches. Gondar
After the conquest of
Ethiopia by the Kingdom of Italy in 1936, was further developed under Italian occupation. During theSecond World War, Italian forces made their last stand in Gondar Gondar in November 1941, after Addis Ababa fell to British forces six months before. The area of was one of the main centers of activity of Italian guerrilla against the British forces until summer 1943. Gondar
During the Ethiopian Civil War, the forces of the Ethiopian Democratic Union gained control of large parts of Begemder, and during parts of 1977 operated within a few miles of Gondar, and appeared to be at the point of capturing the city. As part of Operation Tewodros near the end of the Civil War, Gondar was captured by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front in March 1991.
Gondar traditionally was divided into several neighborhoods or quarters: Addis Alem, where the Muslim inhabitants dwelled (as mentioned above); Kayla Meda, where the adherents of Beta Israel lived; Abun Bet, centered on the residence of the Abuna, or nominal head of theEthiopian Church; and Qagn Bet, home to the nobility.
Gondar is also a noted center of ecclesiastical learning of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and known for having 44 churches, for many years more than any other settlement in . Ethiopia and its surrounding countryside constitute the homeland of most Ethiopian Jews. Gondar
The modern city of
is popular as a tourist attraction for its many picturesque ruins in the Royal Enclosure, from which the Emperors once reigned. The most famous buildings in the city lie in the Royal Enclosure, which include Fasilides castle, Iyasu's Palace,Dawit's Hall, a banqueting hall, stables, Mentewab's Castle, a chancellery, library and three churches. Near the city lie Fasilides' Bath, home to an annual ceremony where it is blessed and then opened for bathing; the Qusquam complex, built by Empress Mentewab; the eighteenth century Ras Mikael Sehul's Palace and the Debre Berhan Selassie Church. Gondar
shows the influence of the Italian occupation of the late 1930s. The main piazza features shops, a cinema, and other public buildings in a simplified Italian Moderne style still distinctively of the period despite later changes and, frequently, neglect. Villas and flats in the nearby quarter that once housed occupation officials and colonists are also of interest. Gondar
The town is also home to an airport (ICAO code HAGN, IATA GDQ), and Gondar University which includes
's main faculty of medicine. Intercity bus service is provided by the Selam Bus Line Share Company. Ethiopia