Some Muslims consider Harar as the fourth holiest city of their faith after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. There are several stories about the foundation of Harar which date from the 10th century to the 15th century. But it is certain that the walls which still surround the old city, have been constructed by Sultan Nur around 1560. This old walled city with its steep cobbled streets and white houses breathes a special, relaxed and lively atmosphere.
Through the ages, Harar has been ruled by several sultans so it nearly always has been under Muslim influence. That’s why the old city inhabits 108 mosques from which the oldest is of the 12th century. There are many other interesting monuments and places to visit such as the 16th century tomb of Emir Nur, the Rimbaud House (where the great French poet is said to have lived during his stay in Harar) which is used as a museum now, the house of Ras Makonnen where the last emperor Haile Selasse spent his childhood, the Church of Medhane Alem or the Harar Museum. It is also interesting to visit one of the old Harar houses with their beautiful interior and don’t forget the lively market to buy the famous colourful Harar basket ware. The most famous attraction of Harar is the hyena man who -according to a 50 years old tradition- is feeding every evening meat to a troupe of hyena’s. He knows all the hyena’s by name and when he calls them they appear from the darkness one by one to take the meat from his hand or mouth. When you observe this spectacle you can’t help shivering a little bit.