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Ethiopia–Why to Go NOW? 7. Reason: Throw Lemons at you future love in Gondar

Updated: Jan 19

Experience the old splendor of Ethiopia's emperors in Gondar - famous for the Timkat festivities. Get lost in its magical history and vibrant culture!

Gondar was once the seat of Ethiopian emperors.

The old splendor can still be seen: It’s famous for the walled Fasil Ghebbi fortress and palace, Debre Berhan Selassie church, with an interior of elaborate murals, including a ceiling of faces. My favourite was the magical Bath of Fasilidas, famous for the festivities of Timkat.

Safety note: I was in Ethiopia in 2019. There is currently a travel warning from the Federal Foreign Office. Please check before you book a trip.

ethiopia Gondar guide palace ruins emperor

Sol, our guide in Gondar, had the toughest job of all our guides during the whole trip. We were completely exhausted from our Christmas in Lalibela with hardly any sleep. After a short flight and lots of Ethiopian coffee, we were barely awake when he picked us up at our hotel. Which is really unfair for him and for his city, because to be honest

Gondar is - for me - probably the most relaxed and nicest town in Ethiopia

The royal enclosure: walled Fasil Ghebbi fortress

Legend says that in 1632, King Fasilidas was guided by a water buffalo to a waterhole. The hermit who lived there told him to build his city at exactly this place. It must be a strange king indeed who listens to an hermit in this way, but this one did and built the first of several palaces that are now collectively known as the royal enclosure. They were completed between 1632 and 1855.

They are all situated within a leafy compound, which is the meeting place for the students from the local university, who sit in the garden reading, talking or taking pictures – of each other and of us. The style of the buildings is also really special: a beautiful mix of Arabic and European architectural elements, which makes the whole place look very unusual for an African city. It was probably influenced by all the traders who came to this town, which is situated at the crossing point of three major caravan routes.

Click on the first picture to see it full size:

After all the hustle and bustle of thousands of pilgrims in Lalibela, it was very relaxing to walk through the park and to visit the different palaces of the different kings.

Full of angles: Debre Berhane Selassie Church

Another must-see is the church Debre Berhane Selassie, dating back from 1694. Its walls and roof are covered with paintings of the heads of angles which can … by the way … also be found in the label of a local brewery.

Click on the first picture to see it full size:

Bath of Fasilidas - Home of the Timkat festival

In the setting sun we went to the Bath of Fasilidas. It is a magical place where old trees cling to even older stone walls. The bath itself only gets filled with water on the 19th of January each year – unfortunately too late for our visit. On that day, Timkat is celebrated in remembrance of the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan.

“On Timkat …” Sol, tells us “… young men traditionally throw lemons at the girls they are interested in.”

Then he admits that it has changed over the last few years. “Nowadays you probably have to throw the newest Samsung phone to get the attention you want.”

Another highlight in Gondar is a restaurant. Don't laugh – to sit in the backyard of the Four Sisters in the evening with a glass of wine and eat some Injera is really a perfect treat.

Bath of Fasilidas Gondar Ethiopia
Key Facts to visit Gondar in Ethiopia

How to get there:

Ethiopian Airlines flies daily (at least from Frankfurt) directly to Addis Abeba. If you book with them, you get a discount on the inland flights, which you will probably need, as the roads are very bumpy and dusty …


We arranged everything through Lalibela Eco Trekking.

Molla Kassaw - the owner - organized our whole trip and everything worked perfectly. We didn't have a single guide, but always different local guides, who showed us their town/hike. That way we got to know a lot of different people, who knew their local attractions best.


Don't miss out on the Four Sisters restaurant. You can eat here from 7-23 in a lovely garden. Behind the public library, (200m from the exit of Fasil's Castle), Tel: +251 918 736 510,


Here comes more good news: The four sisters opened an Inn in January 2019 close to their restaurant. We looked at their rooms – unfortunately we already had an accommodation – and they were are all clean, stylish, comfortable and light. Breakfast is in the restaurant, which is 2 minutes away by foot.

INN OF THE FOUR SISTERS, Kebale 02, Gondar, Tel: +251 582 114 098,

You can watch a short Video here:

I didn't really film - I was too occupied to take pictures of all the beautiful things going on around me, but as I had the drone with me, and as I sometimes pressed the record button on my camera as well, I had a few (very shaky, sorry) clips, that I edited into a short clip. I hope you enjoy watching it …

You can read more Blogs of Ethiopia, which I wrote here:
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