By Tewodros Kassa
Gondar is among world’s top pilgrimage sites. Recently, it had successfully hosted the Seventh Ethiopian Cities Forum with the conveyance of more than 230 local cities and more than 15,000 participants from countrywide. Following this event, this writer enjoyed a chance to visit the hospitable land of Gondar.
Imagining about the fascinating and breezy land of Gondar, this writer left Addis early in the Spring. To arrive at Gondar, you need to cruise through the meandering landscapes to the North and cross the giant river, Abay (Blue Nile). The journey almost consumes a day and a half on road.
Located at 747 kilometres from the capital Addis and at 176 kilometres from the city of Bahir Dar, Gondar had served as the main centrer of administration during the ancient times of the empire of Gondar. Being the centrer of the highest topography of the country in the Northern tip, it has a comfy climate with humid subtropical climate.
The city was founded by Emperor Fasiledes at around 1635. Since its establishment, the city continues to be a potential trade centre of Ethiopia. A total of 13 kings were enthroned during the Gonderian period.
Gondar is well known in the world for its huge castles and an array of natural and man-made tourist attractions. Gondar served as a castle for more than 250 years, from 1636-1785 (from Emperor Fasil- Teklegiorgis). Being on strategic position, the city played a fundamental role to the triumph over different foreign invaders against Ethiopia.
Gondar and its people have shown a remarkable and colourful account of history along with Ethiopia’s independence from foreign invaders in the past. Being ensconced at the top of mountains circled by two year-long flowing rivers, its residents are well known for variety of cultural music and dances. Different cultural night clubs are available inside the city, which presents cordial musical songs at night.
Azmaries (Traditional singers) welcome guests with entertaining poems and songs and invites them to revisit the city. The presence of extra number of cultural musicians adds a moon light and greater value to record unforgettable memory to one’s journey. Everywhere you go in the city, you could have the opportunity to entertain at the cultural night clubs. The poems and tune of each Azmary (cultural musicians) with their cultural alcoholic drinks; like Tej, Tella and Areki, presented to you, keeping the traditional way of presentation, will make you more happier and feel dynamic in your trip.
Using this opportunity, this writer had also visited the wonderful cultural night clubs, the historical Fasil Gibi (Compound) castles spread out at the centre of the city, Debrebrehan Sillassie and other monasteries around the city to record unforgettable memory of Gondar.
A day prior the official opening of the Seventh Ethiopian Cities Forum a paper entitled ‘A Mother of Cities-Gondar: From Where to Where’ was presented.
Presenting a paper prepared by the University of Gondar in collaboration with other institutions and experts, Amhara National Democratic Movement Public Relations Head Solomon Mulugeta emphasized that the contribution of Gondar is indispensable regarding introducing modern education to Ethiopia. Aleka Gebrehana, notable founder of Zimamie or Akwakuam (sanctification ceremony) and with the country’s folklore and sayings are among the prominent Gondarians who played a significant role to the expansion of the Ethiopian Orthodox faiths and religious preaching countrywide.
He defined Gondar saying, “A city that connected ancient Ethiopia with the present.”In addition to this, being the first to introduce the mayor system of administration in the country makes the city unique.
Emperor Fasil made Gondar his administration centrer or capital and started building his castles considering the presence of different inputs. The main reasons to the establishment of the city were fulfilment of basic preconditions such as: the suitable natural resources available for the kings, fertile land for agriculture, sufficient water, woods and other construction inputs, strategic location or routes for defence as well as better market channel for trade and preferable topography and climate for healthiness.
The presenter mentioned that the city has further contributed more and laid the cornerstone for the current Ethiopia’s civilization and other cities socio-economic progress.
Hosting the Seventh Ethiopian Cities Forum was a success to Gondar which became an ideal event to promote and publicize its prominence in the tourism industry.
It is common to observe many tourists year long in the city and its surroundings. The city provides ever better amenities to guests and tourists, who witness a hospitable city.
The delicious cultural food, piquant municipality embraced with glamorous ancient architectural buildings plus entertaining, peaceful and sociable people as well as comfy climate and flat terrain topography make Gondar one of the top-preferred tourist destinations in the world.