Harar is a walled city which stands on the eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley and is situated at about 526km from Addis Ababa, lying some 1850m above sea level in hilly but fertile countryside.. The city’s location gives wonderful views of the surrounding country – the vast Danakil desert to the north, the fertile Harar mountains to the west, and the cattle rich Ogaden plains to the south.

Harar was a fiercely religious city and was a forbidden city (closed to visitors), until 1887 when Menelik restored central rule. With its 99 mosques, including the 16th century Grand Mosque with is beautiful twin towers and slender minaret, it is considered to be the fourth most holy city in Islam after Mecca, Medina and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.