Nestled in the foothills of the Simien Mountains in north¬western Ethiopia, Gondar became the capital during the reign of Emperor Fasilidas (1632-1667), who built the first of a number of castle-like palaces to be found here. He established a tradition that was followed by most of his successors, whose buildings greatly enhanced the city’s grandeur. Gondar, which rose to prominence after Ethiopia went through a long period without a fixed capital, emerged in the seventeenth century as the country’s largest settlement. In its day, the city was an important administrative, commercial, religious, and cultural centre.

Some 200 years of relative peace and stability, made a renaissance of Ethiopian civilization known as the Gonderine period possible in the seventeenth century. At this time a rich and distinct expression of architecture, art, music and literature flourished. Great care and attention was also paid to the pursuit of leisure and to providing the luxuries for the elite classes of society. Embellishments such as Turkish bath installations, the kitchen complex of Mintewab’s palace, the amusement park of Fassil and the dedication of a mausoleum to a horse attest to this. Gondar was known for its medieval pageantry, gilded regalia and extravagant ceremonies.

the 17th century Debre Birhan Selassie Church is the only one that has survived the repeated destruction of Gondar at hands of the Dervish (Egypto-Sudanse), Tewodros, the Italians and the British. The church is a rich showcase of the religious art of the Gonderine period and its ceiling of painted angels is only one of its kind.