Ethiopia: Harar – Walled Old City

The walled old city of Harar – aka Hara Jugol – has been preserved completely intact within the city walls (and hence its a prized UNESCO World Heritage site). All pedestrian narrow cobblestone streets present a maze between colorful but often windowless houses with ornate doors. There are over 100 old mosques and over 100 shrines within the city walls, often very small, but some a 1000 years old. Harar is often called the City of Love, for the Old City is populated with both Christian and Muslim families living in absolute peace side by side. Most of the old city houses are also known for their traditional architecture, each representing a multifamily compound with windows facing the inner yard. Inside, the house are very ornate on both walls and ceiling (we were welcomed in quite a few of them, both Christian and Muslim). You can just totally get lost in the Old City and all its small and narrow streets, running into friendly locals and kids, craftsmen working outside, small shops, bakeries, and everybody sitting around and chewing khat.