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Original ATA News Release
2007 Congress Agenda

Gondar: Africa's Camelot

As our minibus rolled into Gondar, after a short flight from Lalibela, there was ample evidence that here was an area destined for long range development as a destination resort. Several new industries attest to this growing trend, as did our conversation with entrepreneurs at the airport and later at the hotel. Our modern, government operated hotel, the Goha was perched like a sentinel on a hilltop, with a commanding view of the city and countryside. Gondar was Ethiopia's capital and principal city during the reign of Emperor Fasilidas in the 17th century. Perhaps that's why I expected to find it a shrine to past glories, instead of an active, bustling community, with people filling the streets, shops doing a brisk business, and scores of gaudily painted horse and buggy taxis (garis) scooting every which way, like bumper cars at a midway. Several of our group decided to try this hair raising means of transport, and it became a highlight of their day, trotting through the narrow alleys of this centuries old capital.

Thanks to a massive government initiative, many of the castles, palaces and royal structures built by the early Emperors are being carefully restored. These treasures of Gondar include the stone bathhouse of Emperor Fasiladas and the ruined Palace of Kusquam. We also entered the church of Debre Brhan Selassie, to gaze in awe at its unique murals, which have stood the test of time for centuries. These castles display a richness in architecture that reveals the influence of Arabia as well as Axumite traditions, and are said to be the largest concentration of such structures in Africa.

(continued) Bahir Dar, Lake Tana and the Blue Nile Falls.