Discovering the treasures hidden in the narrow alleyways of the walled city of Harar, with its colorful markets, countless mosques and shrines and unique Harari people and homes. …
The walled city of Harar, the spiritual heart of Ethiopia’s large Muslim community, is considered by Muslims to be the fourth holiest city in the world. Harar is the provincial capital of Harerge, and it lies at the centre of a fertile agricultural area renowned for coffee and chat production; The walled city remains largely Muslim in character – its ninety-odd mosques, many of them private, are said to form the largest concentration in the world.
Harar is thought to have been founded as early as the 12th century AD, but its rise to prominence started in 1520. For forty years, Harar was the base from which a series of raids were launched which came close to destabilising Ethiopia’s Christian empire. The five metre high city walls were built in the mid 16th century and only Muslims were allowed to enter them.
Harar was an important centre of Muslim trade and learning throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1887 the city was captured by the future Emperor Menelik II. Harar continued to thrive as an important commercial centre until the turn of the century.