I was totally buzzed to finally reach Ethiopia and the highland castle city of Gonder, having last been here in 1994 – now it offered welcome relief from the blazing summer heat of Sudan.

 Royal Enclosure dominating center of Gonder - as seen from nearby hill-top

Royal Enclosure dominating center of Gonder – as seen from nearby hill-top

Sitting at 2120 meters, it felt like spring – but with a healthy dose of daily rain, as the summer highland rainy season was in full swing. Maybe even greater relief was beer. Copious amounts. Boozy nights in seedy bars happily merged with sightseeing. I stayed over 2 weeks in Gonder.

Fasil's castle dominates the Royal Enclosure amid the city of Gonder

Fasil’s castle dominates the Royal Enclosure amid the city of Gonder

Gonder was founded as the capital of Ethiopia in 1635 by Emperor Fasilidas, following some tumultuous moments in Ethiopian history (the near destruction of the Abyssinian Christian empire following an intense Muslim invasion by Ahmed Gragn and then an internal religious conflict, after one emperor’s failed push to impose Catholicism on his Orthodox population).

Brilliant skies in the hills surrounding Gonder; view from my room

Brilliant skies in the hills surrounding Gonder; view from my room

drink coffee and eat injera - local food - with these young ladies in their home.

Wandering the rural suburbs, I was invited in to drink coffee and eat injera – local food – with these young ladies in their home.

church of Debre Birhan Selassie gonder-ethiopia

The church of Debre Birhan Selassie is the only Gonderine church to have escaped the destruction of the invading Mahdists from Sudan during the late 19th century. Saved from ruin, apparently, by a swarm of bees. The church was founded in the 1690s, today it is famous for its interior murals.

debre birhan selassie church ceilings paintings

This is just the ceiling … with these 80 cherubic faces being one of the most famous images of Ethiopian ecclesiastical art.

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Woman exits the gateway to Debre Birhan Selassie; this is the 13th tower of the surrounding wall and it represented Christ (the other 12 towers, were the Apostles).

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Baby shower …

ethiopian women

The most simple of street stalls …

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Nervous chicken in street

Kuskuam Maryam is set on hill about 5 km from Gonder.

Kuskuam Maryam is set on hill about 5 km from Gonder. It was the the out of town residence of Queen Mentewab (a woman renown for her beauty, as her name translates) . It was here that the 18th century that Scottish explorer James Bruce spent several “sociable” months awaiting permission to visit the Blue Nile Falls and the source of the Nile at Lake Tana.

ethiopian kids

ethiopian shop

ethiopia street scene with sheep

ethiopia beggars in street below pepsi sign

Beggars are common; I gave them few notes after this shot