Introduction to Harar
The medieval city of Harar stands on a fertile plateau, amid green hills, on the eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley. Harar is located 520 kilometres by road, east of Addis Ababa, near the Somali border. The closest airport, Dire Dawa, is 1 ½ to 2 hours‘ drive from the town. Harar’s heritage is almost entirely Muslim, and the city is considered by many to be the fourth most sacred center of the Islamic world. Its Islamic character is best expressed in the Jamia Mosque, which dominates the town.
Three of the city’s 82 mosques date back to as early as the 10th century. In addition to the mosques, there are 102 shrines. Roman Catholic and Ethiopian Orthodox churches cater to the smaller, Christian population.
Modern-day Harar surrounds the old part of the city, known as „The Walled City“ of Harar Jugol, which is a registered UNESCO World Heritage site.
The architecture within the walled city is unique and strongly influenced by Islamic and African traditions. In keeping with the 16th century Islamic style, the town’s centre is made up of religious and commercial buildings, surrounded by a maze of narrow cobbled alleys.
Although Harar became a part of Ethiopia in 1887, the city has maintained its unique culture, language and traditions. Prior to that, the city was the capital of the Harari Kingdom (1520 to 1568), before becoming an independent emirate in the 17th century. With trading routes from the Middle East, India and Africa converging here, Harar was once a flourishing commercial hub.
Modern-day Harar serves as the administrative capital of the Harari People National Regional State.
When in Harar
The original domesticated coffee plant is said to have been from Harar.
Rain falls between March and October. November to February is usually the dry period.
When entering the mosques, the clothes have to be “respectful”, covering enough of the body. Shoes must always be removed before entering churches and mosques.
When in Harar
Where to say
Grand Gato Hotel
The Grand Gato Hotel is located near the center of Harar, within walking distance of many of the city’s fascinating historical and cultural sites. Though modest in its offering, this 23-bedroom hotel provides friendly service and the perfect base for your visit to Harar. The rooms are neat and clean, each equipped with an ensuite bathroom and private balcony. Further facilities include a restaurant, bar, laundry service; and free high-speed Wifi.