The Jugal Wall

One of Harar’s heritages that confirm the city as a place of ancient civilization and urban culture is the Jugal wall. The wall embraces ancient mosques, shrines, traditional homes and urban lanes, which are manifestations of Harar’s architectural echelon of the time. The Jugal wall is one of the 9 world heritages of Ethiopia that are listed by UNESCO, and it was built during the rule of Emir Nur, to defend the town from surprise attacks of enemies. The Wall had played a great role for Harar, whose power had declined due to frequent wars during the time of Imam Ahmed, to preserve the identity of its people, heritages and urban culture.

The circumference of the wall is 3442 m (6666 arm’s length/Kurue) encircling an area of 48 hectares. Though there are variations depending on the landscape, the height of the Wall averaged 12 feet (3m), and its thickness is about 50 - 75 c.m. The construction of the wall was executed based on the Harari’s traditional building style of urban houses (Gey Gar) with a soft rock excavated from Mt. Aw-Hakim that has a characteristic nature to be fastened with mud and timber.

Jugal wall was built with five gates and 24 towers that had their own strategic purposes. These gates and towers had military, political, economic and social roles in controlling the whole surrounding and activities that goes in or out of the wall.

Accordingly, they had paved the way to form a public structure to inspect anybody who enters through the gates, to establish traditional administrative structures based on the position of the gates as well as to practice marshal trainings. Furthermore, the gates had played significant role in controlling products that were exported to or imported from Harar and to collect tribute that was necessary for the administration. In addition, the gates were built to make use of access to farmlands and water sources outside the Jugal wall. Thus, they have come to be inextricably bounded with the long history of the Harari by ensuring them fair resource distribution.

The five gates of the Jugal wall

The five gates of the Jugal wall have got names in the Harari and other languages

HarariAmharicOromoArabic

HarariAmharicOromoArabic
Suktat Beri Senga Ber Karra Sofi Bab al Salam
Argo Beri Erer Ber Karra Erer Bab al Rahma
Asum Beri Felana Ber Karra Felana Bab al Fetih
Asmedin Beri Shewa Ber Karra Hamaresa Bab al Nasir
Bedro Beri Buda Ber Karra Budawa Bab al Hakin

Suktat Beri: Is the gate located in the south-eastern part of the Jugal wall and its name is related with a farmland found in front of it. Its Amharic name is related with those cattle that used to get in through the gate; its Oromo counter is based on its direction towards Sofi, and the Arabic name connotes “the gate of peace”.

Argo Beri: This gate is found at the eastern side of the wall and its name is related with those ethnic groups of Argoba who used to get in through the gate. Its Amharic and Oromo names have meaning of “the way to Erer” and the Arabic definition is “the gate of compassion”.

Asum Beri: It is the gate in the northern direction of Jugal and it got its name after the “Berbere” river that is found parallel to the gate. Its names in Amharic and Oromo have the meaning “the exit to Felana” and its Arabic meaning is “the gate of campaign”.

Asmadin Beri: Is found in the western direction of the Jugal wall and its name has a meaning: “the place where Islamic education is taught”. Its Amharic and Oromo names have meanings related to direction: “exit to Shewa” and “exit to Hamaresa”, respectively. Its Arabic meaning is “the gate of victory”. This gate has got unique shape with a construction work made on it during the period of Egyptians’ occupation of Harar./p>

Bedro Beri: It is a name given by the Hararis to the gate at the southern direction. It has got its name after a war training that used to be practiced annually in order to remember the first victory of Prophet Mohammad during the Battle of Bedri. Its Amharic and Oromo names are given in relation to the blacksmith activity on the place and its Arabic meaning is related with the Hakim Mountain that is found at the direction of the gate. During the Italian occupation, reconstruction work had been begun on it to restore it back to its former appearance, but the work was not completed.

Furthermore, a gate known as “Duke” was built on it during the reign of Hailesellassie in 1926. This gate is located midway between Asmadin Beri and Asum Beri; it connects the main road from Addis Ababa with the Jugal and is a big entrance to Feres Megala. During the Italian occupation, the gate was reconstructed and in 1933/34 it was widened and restructured. Compared to the other gates, this gate has no door and is different in its construction, service and history; thus, it is not mentioned amid those ancient gates of the Jugal, and its name has been replaced with “Gate of Harar”. The Jugal wall had 24 guarding towers and, currently, only one tower that is located near the Bedri gate survived destructions that occurred in different periods.

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City of Hareri

In the last two and half decades of self-administration, Harari People’s Regional State has exerted every effort to maintain, develop and promote the culture, language and heritage of its people.

H.E. Ato Murad Abdulhadi  

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