Located 532km east of Addis Ababa, the Harari Regional State (HRS) is the smallest member of the Ethiopian federation – both in population and area size. Uncommon elsewhere, 54.18Pct of the state’s population lives in urban areas. With a great number of historical sites, mosques, shrines, cultural attractions and relatively robust tourism, it is regarded as an open museum.
The city of Harar, the seat of the HRS was founded in the 7th Century as the seat of the Adal Muslim State and reached its peak during the 16th century whereby the Jegol Wall, one of the world’s heritages inscribed by UNESCO in 2006, was built in 1552 by Amir Nur bin Mujahid to defend the city from intruders. For centuries, the fortified city served as a trading hub due to its strategic location and metropolitan culture.
Since its founding, Harar’s 72 successive amirs established independent state and government until 1887, which marked its incorporation to Ethiopia by Emperor Menelik II.
Harar won the UNSECO Peace Prize in 2002 and 2003 for accommodating faith with love. In many places globally, where religious antagonism is increasing, Harar demonstrates an astonishing opportunity of peaceful coexistence of different religions. This could be easily witnessed by the physical proximity of Catholic and Orthodox churches in the city along with mosques in few hundred metres radius in Jegol Wall; but never in history have their differences caused major conflict. EBR’s Tamirat Astatkie visited the historical city, described often as the fourth holy city in the Islamic world after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem, to learn more about its development.