He was Emperor of Ethiopia for 35 years, and his influence was felt for generations, even continuing after the country’s Solomonic Dynasty fell with Haile Selassie in the 1970s. Fasiladas entrenched the Orthodox Church and strengthened as central to Ethiopian life. And Fasiladas’ Palace, which anchors the Royal Enclosure (Fasil Ghebbi) in Gondar, still offers faint whiffs of his presence, over 300 years after it was built.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fasiladas’ Palace and the surrounding imperial buildings are the main draw to Gondar, 450 miles (750 km) north of Addis Ababa. Upon buying your ticket and entering the southernmost gate, you will immediate realize why you braved the 10- to 12-hour bus ride to this city of 360,000.

Standing over 100 feet (32 meters) tall, the four domed towers are just the start of a whimsical tour of the influences behind Gondar’s architecture. Moorish, Portuguese, Indian and Axumite influences can be found everywhere, along with details that offer insight to Ethiopian religion and culture. Some faint paintings still remain, along with original building elements such as beams and rivets. From the roof is where Fasiladas addressed his subjects, and the views that are offered lend to your imagination how powerful this town once was during its heyday.

If your guesthouse can recommend a good guide, go with him. The day I went started rainy so I just went by my own, as I wanted to be alone after a long car ride. Gondar is a great place to spend a few days and explore the local countryside; starting here at Fasiladas’ Palace and the Royal Enclosure is a fantastic place to start.

Image credit: Leon Kaye

Ethiopia, Gondar, Solomonic Dynasty, Fasiladas Palace, Fasiladas, travel, Royal Enclosure, architecture, Fasil Ghebbi, UNESCO, Leon Kaye

Fasiladas’ Palace still screams its glorious history

Ethiopia, Gondar, Solomonic Dynasty, Fasiladas Palace, Fasiladas, travel, Royal Enclosure, architecture, Fasil Ghebbi, UNESCO, Leon Kaye

The grounds of Fasiladas’ Palace are now eerily quiet

Ethiopia, Gondar, Solomonic Dynasty, Fasiladas Palace, Fasiladas, travel, Royal Enclosure, architecture, Fasil Ghebbi, UNESCO, Leon Kaye

The view of other Royal Enclosure buildings from Fasiladas’ Palace

Ethiopia, Gondar, Solomonic Dynasty, Fasiladas Palace, Fasiladas, travel, Royal Enclosure, architecture, Fasil Ghebbi, UNESCO, Leon Kaye

Ruins of a gate guard what was once the center of power in East Africa

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.