Ethiopian Treasures

Gonder

Pictures of Fasilados Castle and Felasha Village, Gonder During the war against the militant Muslim Leader, Ahmed Gragn in 1543, Portuguese soldiers came to help Emperor Gelawdewos, the son of Emperor Lebna Dengel. They settled around Lake Tana where they stayed and began to integrate themselves into the country gaining influence into it during the reign of Emperor Susneyos (1607-1632). In 1622, the Portuguese successfully converted Emperor Susneyos to Catholicism. At this time the Ethiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Church faced an unforeseen disaster. After Susneyos conversion to Catholicism, he outlawed the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and its officials from conducting their orthodox faith. He persecuted and killed thousands Orthodox Tewahedo Christians for practising their faith.

Emperor Susneyos became deeply unpopular and the nobility, clergy and Orthodox Tewahedo Christians revolted against him. In 1632, Susneyos was forced to transfer the throne to his son Prince Fasilados. Fasilados became Emperor and he started to repair the damage done by his father by restoring peace, re-uniting the church and state. He built the famous castle in Gonder and made Gonder his permanent capital of Ethiopia.

In 1769, during the reign of Emperor Yohannes II, the son of Iyasu I, Gonder as a capital of Ethiopia started to disintegrate and the Emperor became a shadowy figure, as he could not assert his authority. The central govenment was abolished and the regional Princes took control of their own affairs. Ethiopia was then divided into a number of small kingdoms and ruled by regional Princes and Feudal Lords until 1855. This period is known in Ethiopian history as the "Era of Princes and Wealthy Feudal Lords" (Zemene Mesafint).

Gonder lasted two centuries as a capital, cultural and political centre. It has now become a tourist attraction for its Portuguese influenced architecture and historical interest.



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Historical Attractions