Set in a landscape of incomparable beauty, Gondar is popular as tourist attraction for its Medieval Castles and churches. Gondar became the 17th century capital of Ethiopia. During its long years as a capital, the settlement emerged as one of the largest and most populous cities. It was a great commercial centre, trading with the rich lands south of the Blue Nile, as well as with Sudan to the west and the Red Sea port of Massawa to the north-east. Downtown of Gondar shows the influence of the Italian occupation of the late 1930s. The main piazza has shops, a cinema and other public buildings in Italian style distinctively of the period despite later changed and frequently neglect.