Destination Guide

The Travel Well Guide


City: Asmara       State: N/A       Country: Eritrea
Asmara  is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of around 579,000 people. At an elevation of 2,400 meters (7 874 ft), Asmara is on the edge of an escarpment that is both the northwestern edge of the Great Rift Valley and of the Eritrean highlands. Textiles and clothing, processed meat, beer, shoes, and ceramics are the major industrial products. Asmara started with four villages, to being a regional center under Emperor Yohannes IV of Ethiopia, to "Little Rome" of Benito Mussolini's unsuccessful second Roman Empire, to being a provincial capital under Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia and lastly a national capital of Eritrea. High on the edge of the Kelbessa Plateau lies a hidden jewel of a city. Asmara, Eritrea's capital, sees little tourism, yet it is a remarkable example of a well-planned, Modernist, Italian city. Instantly appealing, Asmara's broad streets are lined with palms, its clean pavements busy with cafes, pizzerias and ice cream parlors. Most foreigners here are either UN soldiers or NGOs, all of whom must be thrilled to have been posted to such an unexpectedly delightful place.Founded in the 12th century, Asmara gained prominence in 1884, when it became the capital. In the late 1800s Italy began colonizing Eritrea and soon a narrow-gauge railway was built linking Asmara to the coast, underpinning the importance of the town. By the late 1930s, Mussolini decided to turn Asmara into a showcase city, the flagship of his projected African Empire. During the following six years he created 'Little Rome', a well-designed city full of Art Deco, Cubist and Futurist architecture, symbolic of the 'excellence of FascismsThe smallish, pastel-hued center is easily explored: colonial houses and villas draped in bougainvillea are liberally scattered throughout, alongside some magnificent public buildings in several different architectural styles. The neo-Romanesque cathedral (1922), serves as a landmark - its bell tower visible wherever you are. The Orthodox church, the synagogue and the Khalufa el Rashidin Mosque are all of interest, the latter, built using Carrara marble, fronts a dark stone, geometrically patterned square.Asmara was born out of a union of four villages that took place during the twelfth century. Originally, it is said, there were four clans living in the Asmara area on the Kebessa Plateau: Gheza Gurtom, Gheza Shelele, Gheza Serenser and Gheza Asmae. Encouraged by their women, the men united the four clans and defeated the bandits who preyed on the area. After the victory, a new name was given to the place, Arbaete Asmera which literally means, in the Tigrinya language, "the four (female plural) united". Eventually Arbaete was dropped and it has been called Asmera, though there is still a zone called Arbaete Asmera.Tourist places:-Harnet Avenue , The Presidential Palace , The Tank Graveyard , Madebar Market, Art Deco ,  The Great Mosque , The Cathedral , The Opera House  The Cathedral - close up The Old Steam Railway Line.

Climate | When to Visit

Visit during: March to November

Directions | How to Reach

By Air:-Asmara International Airport (IATA: ASM) (ICAO: HHAS). Asmara currently hosts the country's only operating international airport although technically there are two more in Massawa and Assab. Currently (2008) served from Frankfurt three times weekly by Lufthansa and twice weekly by Eritrean Airlines, from Sanaa in Yemen twice weekly by Yemenia Airways, from Cairo twice weekly by Egyptair, from Jeddah/Riyadh twice weekly by Saudi Arabian Airlines and twice weekly by Eritrean Airlines as well. Eritrean Airlines also flies twice weekly to/from Dubai and once weekly to Rome with scheduled dates to Milan as well.

miscellaneous | Important Information

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