The wondrous architecture of Asmara

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A brief sketch of a trip through the Eritrean capital

For true architecture lovers, the capital of Eritrea, Asmara, is a must-see destination in the Horn of Africa. This African capital consists of a unique combination of Art Deco architecture, ancient Orthodox churches and Roman aqueducts. As you stroll through the streets of the capital, you feel as if you are in Italy but 70 years ago. Highly recommended, according to the team at CultureRoad!


From 1890 to 1941, the area of Eritrea was colonized by the superpower Italy. In Italian-Eritrea, architecture flourished in the country and around 400 Art Deco and other modern buildings were built throughout the capital. As a result, Asmara was also called “Piccolo Roma” (little Rome). With the onset of World War II, the Italians left Eritrea and the country became independent for the first time. Although the occupiers left the country, they left behind their legacy in the form of city planning and Italian-inspired architecture that remained.

Despite the complicated history that followed independence from Italy, much of the architecture (and other legacies of the Italian era) remained intact in Asmara. As a result, the capital was rightly declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.

Visiting Asmara

You can spend your days in Asmara strolling along the wide streets and local markets. Take a short break in one of the local coffee shops where they serve delicious latte macchiato or cappuccino while enjoying good conversation with the friendly locals. In the evenings, the small bars feature local Eritrean live music and you can enjoy a spicy version of Italian pasta in one of the many restaurants. Dinner is concluded with the local tradition, the serving of aromatic Eritrean (or Ethiopian) coffee. And of course you can’t miss strolling along the many Art Deco buildings in the capital. From the famous Cinema Impero to the eclectic Fiat Tagliero gas station, the architecture is everywhere and will continue to surprise you.

CultureRoad in Eritrea

In the coming year, CultureRoad will again take individuals and groups to this unique capital in the Horn of Africa. If you are interested in a special off-the-beaten track trip we would be happy to explore the possibilities with you. We are sure that Asmara and Eritrea will not disappoint you.

Do you want to discover Eritrea? Take a look at our independent tours or group tours to Eritrea. Do you need more information? Get in touch with us now.