Inside the Historic City of Harar Jugol in Ethiopia - Where Hyenas Are Best Friends With Man

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion….over the cattle, and over all the earth"

The fortified historic town of Harar is situated on the eastern flank of the Great Rift Valley, about 50 km south-east of Dire Dawe. It is a walled Muslim city, said to be the fourth holiest city of Islam, with 82 mosques and 102 shrines dating back as far as the 10th century.. The city walls were completed in the 16th century, and it served as capital of the Harari Kingdom from 1520 to 1568, before becoming an independent emirate in the 17th century.
Harar Jugol, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Today, the town is particularly noted for the architecture of its townhouses, packed within the city walls with 368 narrow alleyways providing access. Its urban fabric combines traditional African and Islamic elements in a unique way, with the infusion of Indian immigrants at the end of the 19th century adding a further dimension to the architectural character of the town.

For centuries, Harar has been a major commercial center, linked by the trade routes with the rest of Ethiopia, the entire Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Asia, and through its ports, the outside world. It was listed as a World Heritage Site in 2006 by UNESCO in recognition of its cultural heritage.

The African and Islamic traditions influenced over a long period of time the development of the city and its typical urban planning, and contributed to its particular character and uniqueness.

Modern Hārer surrounds the old capital, which is Ethiopia’s only walled city. The ancient walls enclose a crowded Muslim town with alleyways that wind to a central marketplace.
The historic walls of the Muslim City
Outside the walls, the city spreads across the plateau and is characterized by northern Ethiopian and European architecture. To get to Harar Jugol, there is a bus service from Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. Old town Harar is primarily accessible on foot as it is crossed by 368 narrow alleyways.

If there is any other thing Harar is famous for in addition to its history and architecture is the presence of the spotted hyenas roaming around the outskirts of the city. For centuries, people in Harar have lived side by side with hyenas - one of the world’s deadliest land predators, and feeding them every year on the Day of Ashura. According to written records and local folklore, people started to feed hyenas as a way to lure them from attacking humans and eating their livestock.
Beautiful Harar Jugol architecture
Harar is also famous for its special variety of coffee beans, particularly known as Harar Coffee, which is known for its distinctive aroma and flavor.

When in Harar, It’s easy to feel lost, both geographically and in time. The people of Harar known for their warm hospitality and friendliness have a reputation of having a laid back lifestyle with a strong sense of sociability.

They say “Harar is a place where you start a conversation with a stranger and end up in their friend’s house for an afternoon session”.
Harar coffee