Gondar became the capital of Ethiopia during the reign of Emperor Fasilidas (1632-1667), who was responsible for the building of the first of a number of castle-like palaces to be found here. The oldest and the most impressive of Gondar's imperial structures is the two-storeyed palace of Emperor Fasilidas, which is built of roughly hewn brown basalt stones held together with mortar.
The city retained its pre-eminence until the middle of the nineteenth century, when Emperor Tewodros II moved his seat of government to Debre Tabor and later to Mekdela. As a result, Gondar declined in importance and was subsequently looted in the 1880s by the Sudanese Dervishes.
By the early nineteenth century the city was a mere shadow of its former self. More recently, several hisoric buildings were damaged by British bombing during the Ethiopian liberation campaign of 1941. Most of Gondar's famous castles and other imperial buildings nevertheless have survived the ravages of time and together constitute one of Ethiopia's most fascinating antiquties.
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