Dirre Sheik Hussein Religious, Cultural and Historical Site


Dirre Sheik Hussein is part of the Tentative list of Ethiopia in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Dirre Sheik Hussein is an Islamic holy site and a centre of pilgrimage. It dates from the 10th or 12th century (sources vary on that). It comprises a walled compound with white colored and conical domes of tombs and mosques scattered within. Two annual celebrations are held at the site that attract pilgrims from afar.

Map of Dirre Sheik Hussein Religious, Cultural and Historical Site

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

Community Reviews

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Wojciech Fedoruk

Poland - 18-Jan-24 -

Dirre Sheik Hussein Religious, Cultural and Historical Site (T) by Wojciech Fedoruk

When planning a family trip to Ethiopia (January 2024), I wanted to see as many places from the tentative list as possible. Dire Sheikh Hussein seemed like the perfect stop on the way from the Bale Mountains to Harar. In practice, however, something different turned out. The town is located in the middle of nowhere, but it has the mausoleum of Sheikh Hussein, the 13th-century scholar from Somalia who introduced Islam to eastern Ethiopia and founded the Bale Sultanate. The mausoleum is considered one of the most important sites for Muslims in Ethiopia and is a pilgrimage site commemorating the day of Sheikh Husein's birth and death.

We paid 3,000 birr to visit the mausoleum ($25 at the unofficial rate, as much as $50 at the official rate) and it was an obvious rip-off because the place is not worth it. We had to take off our shoes before passing through the main entrance, which made everyone very uncomfortable. We had to walk barefoot through an uneven path with incredibly hot stones and tiny thorns that kept digging into our feet. Even I was fed up with it, not to mention my children. By the end, my daughter was being carried in her arms, to the delight and laughter of the local children. Because of these thorns, I was even afraid that my foot would get infected, but nothing happened.

The mausoleum itself is tiny, lacking any decorations - even lacking a proper floor. The caretaker of this place smeared ash or sand from the mausoleum on our foreheads, he even smeared his own lips and it seemed that he was eating the ash. Next to the mausoleum of Sheikh Husein, there are smaller mausoleums of his children and a scholar surnamed Baghdadi, who came to meet Hussein from Baghdad. Nearby there is a pond dug in the times of Sheikh Hussein. Today it is covered with duckweed, but people still drink water from it - we witnessed it ourselves. We learned these few pieces of information from our 'guide', but this was the only information he could provide. It is clear that the place is not prepared for tourism at all.

We drove for almost five hours to Dire Sheikh Husein, and this was only halfway. We were supposed to reach the town of Mechara, 150 kilometers away, which on a narrow mountain road meant about 4-5 hours of driving through almost complete wilderness. And I promise you, during the first 80 kilometers we passed only three cars. It's good that at least the views made up for the hard driving.

To sum up - the place may have potential, but it requires a lot of work from the state party. Given the difficulties of access, it will remain a place only for connoisseurs. If someone really wants to visit them, it is best to do it as a day trip from Bale Robe and return to the same place.

Community Likes


Full Name
Dirre Sheik Hussein
Religious structure - Islamic
2020 Incomplete - not examined

2016 Incomplete - not examined

2011 Added to Tentative List

Unesco Website: Dirre Sheik Hussein

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Dirre Sheik Hussein Religious, Cultural and Historical Site (T)


Community Members have visited.

WHS 1997-2024