Busy streets of Harar

Travel to Harar – Mosques, Markets and Museums

Harar is the provincial capital of Ethiopia’s largest administrative region, Hararge. Located on a hilltop in the eastern extension of the Ethiopian highlands, the city offers wonderful views of the surrounding country, mainly the vast Danakil desert to the north, the fertile Harar mountains to the west, and the cattle rich Ogaden plains to the south.
The city is also famous for its superb handicrafts that include woven textiles, basket ware, silverware, and handsomely bound books. Harar Jugol has been included in the World Heritage List in 2006 by UNESCO in recognition of its cultural heritage.

Harar, the capital of the modern Harari ethno-political division of Ethiopia, is a walled city that stands on the eastern wall of the Great Rift .

The city was founded between the 7th and the 11th century and emerged as the centre of Islamic culture and religion in the Horn of Africa; it also served for a long time as an important trading centre. The city was a fiercely religious city and was closed to visitors until 1887 when Menelik restored central rule. With its 99 mosques, including the 16th century Grand Mosque with is beautiful twin towers and slender minaret, it is considered to be the fourth most holy city in Islam after Mecca, Medina, and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Harar is home to 82 mosques and 102 shrines, centered on Feres Magala square. Notable buildings include Medhane Alem church, built at the end of the 19th century which contains excellent examples of traditional regional art; the Community Museum that has displays relating to the way of life in earlier times; the 16th century Grand Mosque “Jami Mosque” with its beautiful twin towers and slender minaret; the vibrant market place, regarded as one of the most colourful in all Ethiopia; Ras Mekonin’s house where French poet Haile Selasssie spent most of his childhood and the Ahmar Mountains where Ethiopia’s best coffee is produced.

Other places of interest include the highest amba overlooking the city, and the Kondudo or “W” mountain, which hosts an ancient population of feral horses.

Watch the nightly tourist spectacle that sees the feeding of the hyenas which began in the 1960s after a long standing tradition of feeding porridge to hyenas one night a year.

Relax in Harar by browsing the local markets and shopping for traditional hand crafts that the area is famous for.

  • Discover early Ethiopians’ way of life at the Community Museum.
  • Have wonderful views of the surrounding country.
  • Enjoy the Hyena Man spectacle.


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