Photos of Harar, a historic fortified town, Ethiopia

Harari Region Flag
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Flag of Ethiopia

Harar, a historic fortified town

Harar (also spelt “Harer”) is the capital of the Harari region (its flag is shown at top left), about 540 kilometres to the east of Addis Ababa and situated at an altitude of around 1,885 metres. Called Gey (“the City”) by its inhabitants, it is the trade centre for a coffee, fruit, cereals, and cotton-growing region and has around 125,000 inhabitants.

Near a school
Mosque, old town
Street in old city
Narrow alley
View to Christian town
Market and mosque
Christian market
Harar inner city
Muslim market
View from Muslim town
Narrow street, old town
Outside the gates
Somali with camel
Harar street market
Oromo women
At the market
Muslim market
Near the market
Somali women
Street market
Typical houses
Just outside Harar
Hyena feeding time
Hyena show

There is a military academy, a teacher training institute and an agricultural school. The city is surrounded by a high wall and contains the palace of the governor, an Abyssinian church, and several mosques. A long-standing tradition of feeding meat to hyenas evolved during the 1960s into an impressive night show for tourists.

Harar was probably founded in the 7th Century by Arabs. After 1520 the Somali conqueror Ahmad Gran made it the capital of Adal, a considerable Muslim state, but an invasion by Oromo tribesmen in 1577 brought it to an end. The city remained more or less independent until Egypt occupied it in 1875. The occupation lasted until 1885, and in 1887 it was incorporated into Ethiopia by Emperor Menelik II. A walled city, Harar was long a centre of Islamic learning. The Harari inhabitants of the town are a distinct Ethiopian group who speak a Semitic language but whose written literature is Arabic. Different tribal groups are living in separate quarters and can be recognised by their distinctive dress.