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Harrar

The Walled City of Harar

Harar is found on the high edge of Eastern Ethiopian escarpment. It is also found in the east of Addis Ababa, 525 kilometers by far from it. Harar is one of the oldest and historic cities in Ethiopia. Harar is considered the fourth most sacred center of the Islamic world.

Established in 1520 by a local chief, Sultan Abubaker Muhammed, Harar shortly after wards captured by the fanatical Muslim leader, Ahmed Gragn, who used it as a head quarters from which to launch his devastating jihad against the Christian Ethiopian kingdom to the west. There is plenty to see in the old city, a defensive wall which remains to this day one of its most distinctive features. The Harari live almost entirely within the walls that have encircled this city for more than three hundred years, maintaining their own language, customs and crafts. The wall is four meters high by one meter thick, irregular in shape, has five large gates. The wall protected the citizen against the attack from the neighboring population which would otherwise have almost certainly over return the town. The five gates are known by the Harari language as Bari were each used by caravans traveling to and from a different areas and each had specific name. The chief building with in the walls was the great mosque, known as Al-Jami. Besides this mosque, there are many smaller ones. The Amir’s palace much more interesting, a two story structure, with a reception hall in which the chief received his visitors. The city was renowned for its handicrafts like basket work and for the skill of its sliver smiths who design beautiful necklaces; silver chains, bangles and ear rings out of the precious metals.

Harar is also known for its sash tobes or togas work. The book binders of Harar were likewise so accomplished. Harar, for so great center of commerce, in the 1870s attracted the expansionist ambition of Egypt, which was then ruled by khedive Ismail. Another attraction is the city’s hyena men who make their living by collecting offal and bones which they feed to the wild hyenas around the city.

 
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