Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town
Harar, formerly written Harrar and known to its inhabitants as Gey, is a walled city in eastern Ethiopia, formerly the capital of Harergey and now the capital of the modern Harari ethno-political division (or kilil) of Ethiopia. The city is located on a hilltop in the eastern extension of the Ethiopian Highlands, about five hundred kilometers from Addis Ababa at an elevation of 1,885 meters. Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, Harar has an estimated total population of 122,000, of whom 60,000 were males and 62,000 were females. According to the census of 1994, on which this estimate is based, the city has a population of 76,378.
For centuries, Harar has been a major commercial centre, linked by the trade routes with the rest of Ethiopia, the entire Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and, through its ports, the outside world. Harar Jugol, the old walled city, was included in the World Heritage List in 2006 by UNESCO in recognition of its cultural heritage. It is sometimes known in Arabic as “the City of Saints” (“Madinat al-Awilya”). According to UNESCO, it is “considered ‘the fourth holy city’ of Islam” with 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century and 102 shrines.
Founded in the 7th century by Arab immigrants, it was chosen as the capital of the Adal Sultanate from 1554 to 1557. Harar saw a political decline during the Sultanate of Harar, only regaining some significance in the Khedivate of Egypt period. During Abyssinian rule, the city decayed while maintaining a certain cultural prestige. Today, it is the seat of the Harari ethno-political division.
- Harar, formerly written Harrar and known to its inhabitants as Gey, is a walled city in eastern Ethiopia, formerly the capital of Harergey and now the capital of the modern Harari ethno-political division (or kilil) of Ethiopia.