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No journey along Ethiopia’s great historic route would be complete without a visit to the medieval walled city of Harar, which stands among green mountains (at an elevation of 1885 meters) on the east wall of the Great Rift Valley 500 km from Addis Ababa and near to the Somali border, with its more than 90 mosques and shrines, is considered the fourth most sacred center of the Islamic world, registered by UNSCO as world heritage in 2008
Harar was founded between the 7th and the 11th century. In the sixteen century Harar, under sultan Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad, became the capital of an independent Muslim kingdom. In the same century the great walls with five gates surrounding Harar were built to keep out powerful neighboring hostile groups. In the nineteenth century Harar was incorporated into Ethiopia’s growing Empire. Harar has for centuries been the main centre for Islamic learning and culture in Ethiopia, and a prosperous centre for caravan trade linked by trade routes with the rest of Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the outside world. Harar is considered by some to be the fourth holiest Muslim city in the world with its around 90 mosques three of which date from the 10th century, and 102 shrines located in a small city of less than one square mile.The Hyena man is considered to be a tourist attraction of Harar; for a few dollars you can see or even experience feeding the hyenas in the evening. This long-standing tradition of feeding the carnivores at night began in 1960.
Harar has an ethnically complex population made up of Adares, the indigenous highland Ethiopian People of this region who speak a Semitic language related to Amharic, Arabs, Oromo’s and Somalis from the plains. This cultural diversity is best expressed in the old market as a centre of the city where tall, graceful maidens in long, flowering, extravagantly colored dresses come to barter and buy amongst the elegant Moorish archway.
Rightly renowned for its intricately worked jewelers of silver, gold and amber, Harrari's Magalo Gudo market is also a centre of beautiful basket of woven grass, decorative wall mats and bright shawls, as well as fruit, vegetables, spices and grains of the province and a warren of streets. Travelers may wander on narrow, cobbled alleyways twisting from the market until they reach one of the five gates in the city wall, or visit the former house of Haile Selassie that is momentarily used by a healer, who by using herbs is able cure lots of diseases, or else enter
The French poet Arthur Rimbaud has lived in Harar as a trader in the nineteen century, and now travelers may visit his place of living called “Rimbaud house” which is an impressive, beautiful mansion in restoration.