Harar, Ethiopia

Turkish House (renovated) in Harar

Harar is not an easy place to travel to, for people who either do not have the right connections or are not experienced in travel. The City of Peace is also UNESCO world heritage site due to the rich history. The walls of Harar date back to the 15th and 16th century and enclose the city. It is also home to 82 mosques and has rich Islamic history due to it being the 4th holy city in Islam.

In the past it was an education hub for scholars and students alike to enrich and gain knowledge of the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).

The people who live in Harar also have there own unique culture with their own foods and traditions. Ethiopian food has become well known in the world today (even making appearances on MasterChef South Africa), however there are food still unknown to the majority of people such as khulbut for example. Every tribe in Ethiopia (and there are about 80 tribes) has their own way of living, dressing and eating – Harar is no exception.

There are many sites to visit as well, one of the most colourful being Rimbaud’s house. It showcases the vibrant colours of stainglass windows. Rimbaud was a French poet who came to Harar in 1880 and took part in trade there as well.

There is also the renovated Turkish house. It was a house that was close to falling apart in Harar, due to the amount of time that it went uncared for, when a Turkish organization came in to renovate in 2014. Thanks to that it is still standing in it’s original structure and is open for tourists to visit. You can even get some information on which room Muhammad Ali stayed in at one time in his life (what one of the tour guide’s had told me – not sure how true it is).

The city also has 5 gates which everyone should visit. One is even named for the red spice (berbere as known in Amharic) because the soil there is red like that spice. It mixed with the water which runs by so it was called Asu me bari (asu water gate).

One thing which is difficult is to find certain items at the stores. If you don’t speak the language you may have a hard time without a tour guide around to help. For example, try challenging yourself to find nail clippers. You may find yourself walking from store to store if you do not know which area to look (streets also don’t have names, instead you locate by what is around or by a person’s name).

More photos and info on how to travel there to come!