Harar - The Walled City

Harar - The Walled City Ethiopia

Surrounded by the desert and savannah, the fortified city of Harar is situated on the plateau, cross-sectioned by deep gullies. It is known as the fourth holy city of Islam. In it, 82 mosques (out of which number, three date back from 10th century) and 102 houses of prayer have been erected.

In 13–16th centuries, the city was provided with walls surrounding it. The majority of the houses in it are one-storey, three-room buildings with a yard set aside for the purposes of house-keeping. Another type of homesteads, called the Indian type, is represented by the buildings erected by Indian merchants at the end of 19th century. These houses are rectangular, two-storey buildings with a veranda moved forward into the yard or the street. The third type is the combination of the two previously mentioned.

The architecture of the city is an exceptional one, and unlike what can be seen anywhere else, whether in Ethiopia itself or in other Muslim cities. Its current outside appearance was permanently formed in 16th century, and is characterized by the labyrinth of narrow streets, along which the high facades of houses can be seen. In the years 1520–1568, the city became the capital of the Kingdom of Harar. In 16–19th centuries, it was a center of commerce and teaching Quran. In 17th century, together with its adjacent areas, it became an independent emirate. In the course of the further ten years, it was occupied by Egypt, and in the year 1877 was incorporated into Ethiopia.

The city is a well-known center of artistic artisanship – weaving, basketry and book-binding, and also the exceptional conception of the interior design of houses.