Sunday, December 8, 2013

Harar Trip (8 Dec 2013)

Harar Jugol's iconic (main) gateway. The portrait in the middle is that of the city's last emir.
Gavin, Joseph, Idu and I went off to Harar today.

I was lucky, because Gavin was showing them around, as it's there first time hereabouts. Also, it's good for Idu, as he does some tour guiding on the side and Harar, perhaps the only tourist destination in East Ethiopia (Danakil is a bit northern, and better accessed via the northern Ethiopian city of Mekelle), should be on his have-been-to list.

Harar is about an hour (or 1-1/2 hrs) away from Dire Dawa by mini bus (van or V-hire, to us). The view uphill from the desert plains of Dire Dawa was breathtaking.
Welcome arch of Harar City.
Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town within the modern Harar City. In Harar, we were met by Idu's friend, who served as our guide.
The fortified historic town of Harar is located in the eastern part of the country on a plateau with deep gorges surrounded by deserts and savannah. The walls surrounding this sacred Muslim city were built between the 13th and 16th centuries. Harar Jugol, said to be the fourth holiest city of Islam, numbers 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century, and 102 shrines, but the townhouses with their exceptional interior design constitute the most spectacular part of Harar's cultural heritage. The impact of African and Islamic traditions on the development of the town's building types and urban layout make for its particular character and uniqueness. (Source: UNESCO)

Harar Jugol is very much influenced by Arabic culture, or perhaps, Yemeni. Very colorful. It would have been even more colorful another day of the week, with people bustling about. Sunday is rest day here, not the traditional Friday of an Islamic place.

One museum was open, though. The Ras Tafari house. The former Haile Selassie is said to have stayed/lived/honeymooned here. It's now a privately-owned museum with an assortment of Ethiopian cultural memorabilia.

The villa was built by Indians. 
The main door is distinctly Indian, with the image of the Hindu deity Ganesha carved on it.

The Ras Tafari house afforded a stunning view of the city.


Very late lunch at a cultural restaurant after the walking tour.

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