Harar - A Walled City of Stone Houses

Harar was established by Sultan Abu Beker Mohammed in 1520. Harar, the Holy City of Ethiopia's Muslim community, is believed to be the forth-holiest city after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The old city wall of Harar is the main attraction and symbol of Islamic architecture. Harar has approximately 82 mosques, which form the largest concentration of mosques in the world.

Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim's nephew and successor, Nur Ibn Al-Wazir Mujahid, was forced to erect strong encircling walls for defense against the Oromos, preventing them from penetrating the city. Ever since, the walls have been the city's most dominant feature and attraction.

The ancient walled city of Harar was for many centuries a major commercial centre, trading with the Ethiopian interior, the Gulf of Aden ports, and many eastern lands. It had its own language, Harari or Adere, which was spoken only within the walls of the city, and issued its own currency. The city was a great centre of Islamic learning. It was furthermore renowned for its remarkable handicrafts, notably its fine weaving, multicolored baskets and it's beautifully-bound manuscripts. These were rated as virtually without equal in the Islamic world.

Visitors to Harar should inspect the city's unique housing, the colorful dresses of its inhabitants, and its stout old walls. The city's two museums, colorful markets, and, at night, the "hyena man", who can be seen and photographed while feeding these animals should be included into a visit to this fascinating city. Guests are invited to feed the hyenas as well!

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