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Asmara - Africa’s Hidden Gem?

Last Updated: 3/1/2008 3:50:23 PM

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Its stunning Art Deco and modernist architecture makes Asmara one of the most visually distinct cities in Africa.....


A church in Asmara
A church in Asmara

Asmara is the capital and largest city in Eritrea. It originally grew to importance as a provincial capital in the Ethiopian Empire. In 1889 Italy’s attempts to create a colonial empire in Africa saw Asmara occupied and selected to serve as the colony’s capital.

It remained a quiet colonial town until the 1930’s when the fascist Mussolini government set about creating a "little Rome" in Africa.

It was this unlikely source of patronage that brought about the striking modernist Art-Deco feel that dominates Asmara’s architecture. Famous buildings in this tradition include the Cinema Impero, the Fiat Tagliero Building and the Governor’s Palace

The unique look of Asmara is a potential tourist gold mine for Eritrea but its development as a destination is hampered by the long running dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

This video travelogue visits Eritrea and explores its wonderful architecture



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