Asmara

Asmara

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Asmara is the capital city
Capital City
Capital City was a television show produced by Euston Films which focused on the lives of investment bankers in London living and working on the corporate trading floor for the fictional international bank Shane-Longman....

 and largest settlement in Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

, home to a population of around 579,000 people. At an elevation of 2325 metres (7,628 ft), Asmara is on the edge of an escarpment
Escarpment
An escarpment is a steep slope or long cliff that occurs from erosion or faulting and separates two relatively level areas of differing elevations.-Description and variants:...

 that is both the northwestern edge of the Great Rift Valley
Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley is a name given in the late 19th century by British explorer John Walter Gregory to the continuous geographic trench, approximately in length, that runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in South East Africa...

 and of the Eritrean highlands
Eritrean Highlands
The Eritrean Highlands are an extension of the Ethiopian Highlands to the south. The region has seen tremendous deforestation since the Italian Colonial period which began in the late 19th century. The Highlands are at particular risk of deforestation and associated soil erosion...

.

The city is located in Eritrea's Maekel Region. The city itself is split into thirteen districts or administrative areas. These are; Acria, Abbashaul, Edaga Hamus
Edaga Hamus
Edaga Hamus is an Eritrean football club based in the Edaga Hamus district of Asmara.-Current squad:...

, Arbaete Asmara, Mai Temenai, Paradiso
Paradiso
Paradiso is the Italian or Latinized version for Heaven or Paradise. It may also refer to:* Paradiso , the third part of Dante's Divine Comedy* Paradisio, a Belgian dance act* Paradiso , a music venue in Amsterdam...

, Sembel
Sembel
Sembel was the site of a village near Asmara, however it is now a suburb of Asmara, Eritrea to the south. Immediately after the Eritrean War of Independence a large Government subsidized housing project was constructed. During its construction and that of a nearby Intercontinental Hotel evidence of...

, Godaif, Maekel Ketema or Downtown, Tiravolo, Gejeret, Tsetserat and Gheza Banda.

History


Although it would be easy to think of Asmara, the Eritrean capital, solely as an Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 built colonial city
Italian Eritrea
Italian Eritrea was the first colony of the Kingdom of Italy. It was created in 1890 and lasted officially until 1947.-Acquisition of Assab and creation of the colony:...

, its origins actually reach back some 700 years. The Tigringa and Tigre
Tigre
-Argentina:* Tigre Partido, an administrative division in Buenos Aires, Argentina** Tigre, Buenos Aires, the main city in Tigre Partido** Tigre Club in Paseo Victorica, Tigre, near Buenos Aires, Argentina...

 people live around there. Originally, it is said, there were four clans living in the Asmara area on the Kebessa Plateau: the Gheza Gurtom, the Gheza Shelele, the Gheza Serenser and Gheza Asmae. These towns fought each other until the women of each clan decided that to preserve peace the four clans must unite. The men accepted, hence the name Arbate Asmera. Arbaete Asmara literally means, in the Tigrinya language
Tigrinya language
Tigrinya , also spelled Tigrigna, Tigrnia, Tigrina, Tigriña, less commonly Tigrinian, Tigrinyan, is a Semitic language spoken by the Tigrinya people in central Eritrea , where it is one of the two main languages of Eritrea, and in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia , where it...

, "the four made them united." Eventually Arbaete was dropped and it has been called Asmara which means "they[feminine, thus referring to the women] made them united", though there is still a zone called Arbaete Asmara. It is now called the Italianized version of the word Asmara. The westernized version of the name is used by a majority of non-Eritreans, while the multilingual inhabitants of Eritrea and neighboring peoples remain loyal to the original pronunciation, Asmera. Another legend tells that in this region the Queen of Sheba gave birth to the son of Solomon, Menelik I.

The missionary
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 Remedius Prutky passed through Asmara in 1751, and described in his memoirs that a church built there by Jesuit priests 130 years before was still intact.

Medri Bahri


Asmara, which was part of the semi independent kingdom of Medri Bahri, would briefly come under the occupation of the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 backed and supported Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ians. Later Emperor Yohannes IV gave his trusted Ras Alula the title of governor of Medri Bahri. Alula moved the capital of the province to Asmara, which then had about 150 inhabitants. At this time, the largest city in Eritrea was Debarwa
Debarwa
Debarwa is a market town with a population of about 25,000 in central Eritrea, about 25 kilometers south of the capital Asmara. It is the capital of the Debarwa district in the Debub administrative region...

, now located in the Debub Region. This was the historical capital of the Bahr Negash of Medri Bahri. Within four years, the town's population numbered more than three thousand, and its commercial importance, with increased trade with Massawa
Massawa
Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa (Ge'ez ምጽዋዕ , formerly ባጽዕ is a city on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. An important port for many centuries, it was ruled by a succession of polities, including the Axumite Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate,...

, grew considerably.

Italian colonisation


Asmara acquired importance as a result of Alula's choice for the capital of his province, and when it was occupied by Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 in 1889 and was made the capital city of Eritrea in preference to Massawa by Governor Martini in 1897. In the early 20th century, a railway line was built to the coast, passing through the town of Ghinda
Ghinda
Ghinda is a town in the Northern Red Sea region of Eritrea. It lies between Asmara and Massawa.-Overview:Ghinda is a major fruit and vegetable growing area and a centre for Tigre Muslims. It lies near the springs of Sabarguma...

, under the direction of Carlo Cavanna
Cavanna
-Origins:It seems that the name first appeared historically in Genoa, and later in Piacenza. Nearby, a place called Cavanna di Lesignaro is to be found in the vicinity of Parma. In the center of the triangle Genoa-Piacenza-Parma lies the municipality of Ferriere, which includes the localities of...

. In both 1913
1913 Asmara earthquake
The 1913 Asmara Earthquake was a seismic movement that took place outside Asmara, Eritrea on 27 February. The data as to the magnitude of the earthquake is imprecise due to the frequency and magnitude of aftershocks, but a maximum felt intensity of VI on the Mercalli intensity scale was recorded...

 and 1915
1915 Asmara earthquake
The 1915 Asmara Earthquake was a seismic movement that took place outside Asmara, Eritrea on September 23, 1915. Seismic details of the event were not recorded . The event did however cause panic among the inhabitants and slight damage. The earthquake is described by experts as being of relatively...

 the city suffered only slight damage in large earthquakes. In the late 1930s the Italians changed the face of the town, with a new structure and new buildings: Asmara was called Piccola Roma (Little Rome).

While Eritrea was under Italiian colonial rule, architecturally conservative early-20th-century Europeans used Asmara "to experiment with radical new designs." Nowadays the major part of buildings are of Italian origin, and shops still have Italian names (e.g., Bar Vittoria, Pasticceria moderna, Casa del formaggio, and Ferramenta).

Asmara was populated by a numerous Italian community
Italian Eritreans
Italian Eritreans are Eritrean-born descendants of Italian settlers as well as Italian long-term residents in Eritrea.-History:...

 and consequently the city acquired an Italian architectural look. The city of Asmara had a population of 98,000, of which 53,000 were Italian according to the Italian census of 1939. This fact made Asmara the main "Italian town" of the Italian empire
Italian Empire
The Italian Empire was created after the Kingdom of Italy joined other European powers in establishing colonies overseas during the "scramble for Africa". Modern Italy as a unified state only existed from 1861. By this time France, Spain, Portugal, Britain, and the Netherlands, had already carved...

 in Africa. In all Eritrea the Italians were 75,000 in that year.

Many industrial investments were made by Italy in Asmara, but the beginning of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 stopped the blossoming industrialization of the area.

British occupation



Italy was defeated in 1941, and the British administered the city and the rest of the country from 1941 to 1952. During this time, many industries were shipped out of the city to other British colonies like India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

. The British maintained initially the Italian administration of Eritrea, but the country soon started to be involved in a violent process of independence (from the British in the late forties and after 1952 from the Ethiopians, who annexed Eritrea in that year). Asmara
Asmara
Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of around 579,000 people...

 was one of the cities (along with Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

 and Gondar
Gondar
Gondar or Gonder is a city in Ethiopia, which was once the old imperial capital and capital of the historic Begemder Province. As a result, the old province of Begemder is sometimes referred to as Gondar...

) that were visited by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in 1965. She was invited by the emperor at the time, Haile Selassie I.

Federation with Ethiopia


In 1952, the United Nations resolved to federate the former colony under Ethiopian rule. During the federation, Asmara
Asmara
Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of around 579,000 people...

 was no longer the capital city. The capital was now Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

, over 1000 kilometers to the south. The national language of the city was therefore replaced from Tigrinya language
Tigrinya language
Tigrinya , also spelled Tigrigna, Tigrnia, Tigrina, Tigriña, less commonly Tigrinian, Tigrinyan, is a Semitic language spoken by the Tigrinya people in central Eritrea , where it is one of the two main languages of Eritrea, and in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia , where it...

 to the Ethiopian Amharic language
Amharic language
Amharic is a Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia. It is the second most-spoken Semitic language in the world, after Arabic, and the official working language of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Thus, it has official status and is used nationwide. Amharic is also the official or working...

. In 1961, emperor Haile Selassie I ended the "federal" arrangement and declared the territory to be the 14th province of the Ethiopian Empire
Ethiopian Empire
The Ethiopian Empire also known as Abyssinia, covered a geographical area that the present-day northern half of Ethiopia and Eritrea covers, and included in its peripheries Zeila, Djibouti, Yemen and Western Saudi Arabia...

. Ethiopia's biggest ally was the USA. The city was home to the US Army's Kagnew Station
Kagnew Station
Kagnew Station was an American army base in Asmara, Eritrea on the horn of Africa. The base was established in 1943 as an Army radio station, taking over and refurbishing a pre-existing Italian naval radio station, after Italian forces based in Asmara surrendered to the allies in 1941...

 installation from 1943 until 1977. In 1961, the Eritrean War of Independence
Eritrean War of Independence
The Eritrean War of Independence was a conflict fought between the Ethiopian government and Eritrean separatists, both before and during the Ethiopian Civil War. The war started when Eritrea’s autonomy within Ethiopia, where troops were already stationed, was unilaterally revoked...

 began and it ended in 1991 resulting to the independence of Eritrea. Asmara was left relatively undamaged throughout the war, as were the majority of highland regions. After independence, Asmara, again became the capital of Eritrea.

Demographics



Asmara's population of around 579,000 people makes it the largest city in Eritrea. Although all ethnic groups are represented in the city, the largest groups are the Tigrinya people (77%), the Tigre people
Tigre people
The Tigre are an ethnic group residing in Eritrea and Sudan. They are a nomadic and pastoralist people, related to the Tigray-Tigrinya people of Eritrea and Ethiopia and to the Beja people of Sudan.-History:...

 (15%). In Asmara, the main language is Tigrinya. English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 are also widely spoken and understood.

The Eritrean government's 2003 national census found 99.67% of Asmara's housing units had access to safe drinking water, 96.9% had flush toilet
Flush toilet
A flush toilet is a toilet that disposes of human waste by using water to flush it through a drainpipe to another location. Flushing mechanisms are found more often on western toilets , but many squat toilets also are made for automated flushing...

s, 2.1% pit toilet
Pit toilet
A pit toilet is a dry toilet system which collects human excrement in a large container and range from a simple slit trench to more elaborate systems with ventilation. They are more often used in rural and wilderness areas as well as in much of the developing world...

s (both ventilated and unventilated), and 1% had no toilet facilities. Adult literacy for men is 95.2% and for women 89.95%, the highest in the nation for both sexes.

Religion


Asmara is very diverse when it comes to religion. Three big landmarks of the city are the St Joseph's Cathedral, Asmara of the Catholic faith, the Enda Mariam Coptic Cathedral of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Al Khulafa Al Rashiudin Mosque of the Islamic faith. Christians and Muslims have lived peacefully together in Asmara for centuries. The religion with the most believers in Asmara is the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church
Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church
The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church is an Oriental Orthodox church. Its autocephaly was recognised by Pope Shenouda III after Eritrea gained its independence in 1993.-Origins:...

 (60%), Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 (15%) and Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 (25%). The towns and villages surrounding the city in the highlands are predominantly Christian (most places being all Christian). Further towards the lowlands, a few Muslim towns and villages are found.

Italian Eritreans


The city has a significant population of Italian Eritreans
Italian Eritreans
Italian Eritreans are Eritrean-born descendants of Italian settlers as well as Italian long-term residents in Eritrea.-History:...

. These are Eritrean
Demographics of Eritrea
The demographics of Eritrea describes the condition and overview of Eritrea's inhabitants. Demographic topics include basic education, health and population statistics, as well as identified ethnic and religious affiliations.-Ethnic groups:...

-born descendants of Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 settlers as well as Italian long-term residents in Eritrea. Their ancestry dates back from the beginning of the Italian colonization of Eritrea at the end of the 19th century, but only after the Second Italo-Abyssinian War
Second Italo-Abyssinian War
The Second Italo–Abyssinian War was a colonial war that started in October 1935 and ended in May 1936. The war was fought between the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy and the armed forces of the Ethiopian Empire...

 of 1935 they settled in large numbers. In the 1939 census of Eritrea there were more than 75,000 Eritrean Italians (over 10% of the Eritrean population then), most of them (53,000) living in Asmara. Many Italian settlers got out of their colony after its conquest by the Allies
Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

 in November 1941 and they were reduced to only 38,000 by 1946. Although many of the remaining Italians stayed during the decolonization process after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and are actually assimilated to the Eritrean society, a few are stateless today, as none of them were given citizenship unless through marriage or, more rarely, by having it conferred upon them by the State.
year Italian Eritreans Eritrea population Asmara population
1910 1,000 390,000 24,000
1935 3,100 610,000 47,000
1939 76,000 740,000 103,000
1946 38,000 870,000 88,000
2008 900 4,500,000 610,000
The Italian Eritrean population in Eritrea, from 1910 to 2008


Today there are approximately 900 Italian Eritreans remaining in the Asmara region. However there an estimated 100,000 descendants of Italian Eritreans out of the 600,000 population of the city of Asmara.

Geography


The city lies at an elevation of 2,325 metres above sea level. It lies on north-south trending highlands known as the Eritrean Highlands
Eritrean Highlands
The Eritrean Highlands are an extension of the Ethiopian Highlands to the south. The region has seen tremendous deforestation since the Italian Colonial period which began in the late 19th century. The Highlands are at particular risk of deforestation and associated soil erosion...

, an extension of the Ethiopian Highlands
Ethiopian Highlands
The Ethiopian Highlands are a rugged mass of mountains in Ethiopia, Eritrea , and northern Somalia in the Horn of Africa...

. The temperate central portion, where Asmara lies, is situated on a rocky highland plateau, which separates the western lowlands from the eastern coastal plains. The lands that surround Asmara are very fertile, especially those to the south towards the Debub Region of Eritrea. The highlands that Asmara is located in fall away to reveal the eastern lowlands, characterised by the searing heat and humidity of the Eritrean salt pans, lapped by the Red Sea. To the west of the plateau stretches a vast semi-arid hilly terrain continuing all the way towards the border with Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 through the Gash-Barka Region.

Climate


Asmara features a somewhat rare version of a steppe climate with warm, but not hot, summers and mild winters. Due to its 2,325 m altitude, temperatures are relatively mild for a city located not particularly far from deserts. Asmara averages about 520 millimetres (20.5 in) of precipitation annually. Snowfall is extremely rare in the city. July and August comprises Asmara’s short wet season
Wet season
The the wet season, or rainy season, is the time of year, covering one or more months, when most of the average annual rainfall in a region occurs. The term green season is also sometimes used as a euphemism by tourist authorities. Areas with wet seasons are dispersed across portions of the...

. In fact, on average, about 60% of Asmara’s annual precipitation is seen during these two months. In contrast, January and February are typically Asmara’s driest months, where on average only 7 millimetre (0.275590551181102 in) of precipitation falls in the two months combined.

Architecture


Asmara represents perhaps one of the most concentrated and intact assemblage of Modernist architecture anywhere in the world. The urban design within the Historic Perimeter has remained untouched since its original implementation and subsequent evolution throughout the 1930s, and the architectural elements exemplify a superlative example of Modernist architecture in a complete urban setting. The city's architecture is heavily influenced by Italian architecture. Asmara is the site of an ancient highland village called 'Arbate Asmara'. In 1885, the Italians invaded Eritrea and by 1900. Asmara had become the capital city. The site was chosen for its salubrious highland climate, reliable water supply and ideal geographic location in the centre of Eritrea. In the early twentieth century, Asmara represented little more than a tiny highland village. which grew incrementally to become a well-established town by the 1920s.

However, by the 1930s, it was clear that Italy, under the rule of Mussolini, was intent on invading neighbouring Ethiopia and would use Eritrea as the launch pad for this long-held ambition. In preparation for this substantial military escapade, an unprecedented quantity of materials and labour flowed into Eritrea throughout the 1930s. In a matter of months, Asmara became a vast building site, as over 70,000 Italians arrived to established new lives for themselves. The rapid transformation of Asmara from a relatively minor town into Africa's most modern and sophisticated city at that time overlapped with equally momentous events in the world of design and architecture, which involved the global proliferation of Modernism and its various forms, including Futurism, Rationalism, Novecento, and Art Deco. The spirit of this new age of travel and adventure was embodied in these new architectural forms. Asmara was an ideal blank canvas on which Italian architects could practice and realise these modern ideals. From 1935-1941, thousands of buildings were constructed in the city, most of which reflect various Modernist styles and some of which represent inimitable architectural forms, such as petrol stations mimicking aeroplanes and boats, commercial buildings designed as trains, cavernous cinemas with fine period plasterwork and Art Dem interiors, fine ultra-modern hotels and offices, and government buildings with highly politicised monumental designs.

Features


The city is home naib to the Eritrean National Museum and is known for its early 20th century buildings, including the Art Deco
Art Deco
Art deco , or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and...

 Cinema Impero
Cinema Impero
The Cinema Impero is an Art Deco-style Cinema built by the Italians in Asmara in 1937.-History:Cinema Impero was the largest movie theater constructed in Asmara during the last period of the Italian colony of Eritrea...

 (opened in 1937 and considered by the experts one of the world's finest examples of Art Déco style building ), Cubist Africa Pension, eclectic Orthodox Cathedral
Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church
The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church is an Oriental Orthodox church. Its autocephaly was recognised by Pope Shenouda III after Eritrea gained its independence in 1993.-Origins:...

 and former Opera House
Opera house
An opera house is a theatre building used for opera performances that consists of a stage, an orchestra pit, audience seating, and backstage facilities for costumes and set building...

, the futurist
Futurist architecture
Futurist architecture is an early-20th century form of architecture characterized by anti-historicism and long horizontal lines suggesting speed, motion and urgency. Technology and even violence were among the themes of the Futurists. The movement was founded by the poet Filippo Tommaso...

 Fiat Tagliero Building
Fiat Tagliero Building
The Fiat Tagliero Building in Asmara, capital city of Eritrea, is a Futurist Style service station completed in 1938 and designed by the Italian architect Giuseppe Pettazzi....

, neo-Romanesque Roman Catholic Cathedral
Roman Catholic Cathedral of Asmara
St Joseph's Cathedral in Asmara, Eritrea, is a large Romanesque style cathedral in the centre of the city that was built when Eritrea was an Italian colony. It is the seat of the Eritrean Catholic bishop of the eparchy of Asmara...

, and the neoclassical
Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing...

 Governor's Palace
Governor's Palace (Asmara)
The current City Hall of Asmara, called now the Governor's Palace of Asmara, Eritrea, is an Italian "art-deco" building in the city centre.The former Italian government's palace was built in 1897 by Fernando Martini, the first Italian governor of Eritrea...

. The city is adorned by Italian colonial
Colonisation
Colonization occurs whenever any one or more species populate an area. The term, which is derived from the Latin colere, "to inhabit, cultivate, frequent, practice, tend, guard, respect", originally related to humans. However, 19th century biogeographers dominated the term to describe the...

 villas
Villa
A villa was originally an ancient Roman upper-class country house. Since its origins in the Roman villa, the idea and function of a villa have evolved considerably. After the fall of the Roman Republic, villas became small farming compounds, which were increasingly fortified in Late Antiquity,...

 and mansions, one prominent example being the World Bank Building
World Bank Building, Asmara
The World Bank Building of Asmara, Eritrea is a large old Italian villa which was bought by the world bank to house its headquarters in that country. The architecture of the building is a mixture of Futurist and Art Deco architectural styles....

. Most of central Asmara was built between 1935 and 1941, so effectively the Italians managed to build almost an entire city, in just six short years.
At this time, the dictator Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 had great plans for a second Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. War cut this short, but his injection of funds created the Asmara of today, which supposedly was to be a symbol that Fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 worked and is an ideal system of government.

The city shows off most early 20th century architectural styles. Some buildings are neo-Romanesque, such as the Roman Catholic Cathedral, some villas are built in a late Victorian
Victorian architecture
The term Victorian architecture refers collectively to several architectural styles employed predominantly during the middle and late 19th century. The period that it indicates may slightly overlap the actual reign, 20 June 1837 – 22 January 1901, of Queen Victoria. This represents the British and...

 style. Art Deco influences are found throughout the city; essentially Asmara was then what Dubai is now. Architects were restricted by nothing more than the bounds of their imaginations and were given the funds to create masterpieces which we can see today. Essences of Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

 can be found on the Africa Pension Building, and on a small collection of buildings. The Fiat Tagliero Building
Fiat Tagliero Building
The Fiat Tagliero Building in Asmara, capital city of Eritrea, is a Futurist Style service station completed in 1938 and designed by the Italian architect Giuseppe Pettazzi....

 shows almost the height of futurism, just as it was coming into big fashion in Italy. In recent times, some buildings have been functionally built which sometimes can spoil the atmosphere of some cities, but they fit into Asmara as it is such a modern city.

Asmara is also home to the University of Asmara
University of Asmara
The University of Asmara was Eritrea's first university and is located in the capital city, Asmara. It was created by the Piae Madres Nigritiae...

 and a 19th century fort, Forte Baldissera. It is served by Asmara International Airport
Asmara International Airport
Asmara International Airport, formerly known as Yohannes IV International Airport is an airport in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea.In 2004, the airport served 136,526 passengers ....

, and is connected to the port of Massawa
Massawa
Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa (Ge'ez ምጽዋዕ , formerly ባጽዕ is a city on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. An important port for many centuries, it was ruled by a succession of polities, including the Axumite Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate,...

 by the Eritrean Railway
Eritrean Railway
The Eritrean Railway is the only railway system in Eritrea. It was constructed between 1887 and 1932 by the Kingdom of Italy for the Italian colony of Eritrea, and connected the port of Massawa with Bishia near the Sudan border. The line was essentially destroyed by warfare in subsequent decades,...

.

Asmara is also the see
Episcopal See
An episcopal see is, in the original sense, the official seat of a bishop. This seat, which is also referred to as the bishop's cathedra, is placed in the bishop's principal church, which is therefore called the bishop's cathedral...

 of the archbishop of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, which became autocephalous in 1993. The archbishop was elevated in 1998 to the rank of Patriarchate
Patriarchate
A patriarchate is the office or jurisdiction of a patriarch. A patriarch, as the term is used here, is either* one of the highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, earlier, the five that were included in the Pentarchy: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, but now nine,...

 of Eritrea, on a par with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the predominant Oriental Orthodox Christian church in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Church was administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch by Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All...

.

Asmara was known to be an exceptionally modern city, not only because of its architecture, but Asmara also had more traffic lights than Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 did when the city was being built. The city incorporates many features of a planned city. Indeed, Asmara was an early example of an ideal modern city created by architects, an idea which was introduced into many cities across the world, such as Brasilia
Brasília
Brasília is the capital city of Brazil. The name is commonly spelled Brasilia in English. The city and its District are located in the Central-West region of the country, along a plateau known as Planalto Central. It has a population of about 2,557,000 as of the 2008 IBGE estimate, making it the...

, but which was not altogether popular. Features include designated city zoning and planning, wide treed boulevards, political areas and districts and space and scope for development. Asmara was not built for the Eritreans however; the Italians built it primarily for themselves. One unfortunate aspect of the city's planning was separate areas designated for Italians and Eritreans, each disproportionately sized.

The city has been regarded as "New Rome" or "Italy's African City" due to its quintessential Italian touch, not only for the architecture, but also for the wide streets, piazza
Piazza
A piazza is a city square in Italy, Malta, along the Dalmatian coast and in surrounding regions. The term is roughly equivalent to the Spanish plaza...

s and coffee bars. While the boulevards are lined with palms and indigenous shiba'kha trees, there are numerable pizzerias
Pizza
Pizza is an oven-baked, flat, disc-shaped bread typically topped with a tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings.Originating in Italy, from the Neapolitan cuisine, the dish has become popular in many parts of the world. An establishment that makes and sells pizzas is called a "pizzeria"...

 and coffee bars, serving cappucinos and latte
Latte
A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. Variants include replacing the coffee with another drink base such as masala chai, mate or matcha...

s, as well as ice cream
Ice cream
Ice cream is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavours. Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners...

 parlours. The people in Asmara dress in a unique, yet African style. Asmara is also highly praised for its peaceful, crime-free environment. It is one of the cleanest cities of Africa.

The city hosts the We Are the Future center, a child care center giving children a chance to live their childhoods and develop a sense of hope. The center is managed under the direction of the mayor’s office, and the international NGO Glocal Forum
Glocal forum
The Glocal Forum is an international organization in the field of city-to-city cooperation; encouraging peace building and international development in the non-governmental sector...

 serves as the fundraiser and program planner and coordinator for the WAF child center in each city. Each WAF city is linked to several peer cities and public and private partners to create a unique international coalition.
Launched in 2004, the program is the result of a strategic partnership between the Glocal Forum, the Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
Quincy Delightt Jones, Jr. is an American record producer and musician. A conductor, musical arranger, film composer, television producer, and trumpeter. His career spans five decades in the entertainment industry and a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend...

 Listen Up Foundation and Mr. Hani Masri, with the support of the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, UN agencies and major companies.

Asmara has been proposed as a possible new addition to the UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

s, under the direction of the Cultural Assets Rehabilitation Project
Cultural Assets Rehabilitation Project
The Cultural Assets Rehabilitation Project was created by the Government of Eritrea to assess the architectural heritage of the capital, Asmara...

, for its outstanding examples of 20th century architecture and town planning. Many of these historic buildings are not currently being taken care of and there is a serious risk that this heritage could be lost.

The Historic Center of Asmara was placed on the World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund is a private, international, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic architecture and cultural heritage sites around the world through fieldwork, advocacy, grantmaking, education, and training....

's 2006 Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites. The listing was designed to bring more attention to the city to save the center from decay and redevelopment and to promote restoration.

Following CARP (a World Bank initiative on Cultural Heritage), the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 Delegation in Asmara has engaged into an Heritage Project pertaining to building's restoration and archive management. Launched in 2010 the EU /Eritra Cultural Project is expected to be completed in 2014 (Pierre Couté - Edward Denison
Edward Denison
Edward Denison was an English philanthropist, known for his self-denying benevolent labours in the East End of London and a Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1868 to 1870....

, Project Design Report, EUD Asmara 2009).

Economy


As the capital city and largest settlement of Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

, most Eritrean businesses have their headquarters in Asmara. The city was once a factory town. The city was at the centre of Italian East Africa
Italian East Africa
Italian East Africa was an Italian colonial administrative subdivision established in 1936, resulting from the merger of the Ethiopian Empire with the old colonies of Italian Somaliland and Italian Eritrea. In August 1940, British Somaliland was conquered and annexed to Italian East Africa...

 meaning that many big Italian businesses opened up in the city. When the British entered the country in 1941, many businesses were closed down or relocated outside the city. This worsened under Haile Selassie I who gave out propaganda that appeared that they wanted to modernize Eritrea.

Eritrean Airlines
Eritrean Airlines
Eritrean Airlines is an airline based at Asmara International Airport. Scheduled service had been discontinued since 2008, and the airline only operated a few hajj flights every year...

 and Nasair
Nasair
Nasair is an airline based in Asmara, Eritrea, belonging to the Nasair Group, which operates some limited international services. It is based in Massawa, and operates scheduled flights to domestic destinations in Eritrea, as well as limited scheduled services to the Middle East and...

 have their head offices in Asmara. Eritrean Telecommunications Corporation
Eritrean Telecommunications Corporation
The Eritrean Telecommunication Services Corporation , more commonly known as EriTel, is the sole operator of land line telephone communication infrastructure in Eritrea...

 has its headquarters in Asmara. The country's national television station Eri-TV also has many studios located in various areas in Asmara.

Transport


Taxis that run in the city of Asmara start at 07:00 and end at 21:00, and can get very crowded at peak times. The fare for a shared taxi
Taxicab
A taxicab, also taxi or cab, is a type of vehicle for hire with a driver, used by a single passenger or small group of passengers, often for a non-shared ride. A taxicab conveys passengers between locations of their choice...

 is 5-10 Nakfa per seat. A contracted taxi can charge between 20-300 Nakfa so the price should be negotiated before entering the taxi. Contracted taxis also run outside Asmara to various other cities, towns and villages including; Massawa
Massawa
Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa (Ge'ez ምጽዋዕ , formerly ባጽዕ is a city on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. An important port for many centuries, it was ruled by a succession of polities, including the Axumite Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate,...

, Keren
Keren, Eritrea
Keren is the second largest city in Eritrea. It is situated about 91 kilometers northwest of Asmara. The town serves as the capital of the Anseba region, and is home to the Bilen ethnic group.-History:...

, Mendefera
Mendefera
Mendefera , formerly Adi Ugri, is the capital of Zoba Debub in Eritrea. It is situated 54 kilometers south of the capital city Asmara. The name Mendefera derives from the high hill in the center of the city and is a source of pride to Eritreans...

, Dekemhare
Dekemhare
Dekemhare is a town in Eritrea, lying south east of Asmara. Developed by the Italians as an industrial centre, it became known for its vineyards but was largely destroyed in the Eritrean War of Independence.-History:...

, Adi Quala
Adi Quala
Adi Quala is a market town in Eritrea, lying south of Mendefera near the Ethiopian border, over 2,000m above sea level.-Overview:Adi Quala is known for its tukul church with its frescoes and its mausoleum for the Italian Army soldiers who died at the Battle of Adwa. The town has a population of...

, Ghinda
Ghinda
Ghinda is a town in the Northern Red Sea region of Eritrea. It lies between Asmara and Massawa.-Overview:Ghinda is a major fruit and vegetable growing area and a centre for Tigre Muslims. It lies near the springs of Sabarguma...

 and Nefasit
Nefasit
Nefasit is a small town in the Northern Red Sea Region of Eritrea. Historically it was an important slave trading port....

.

Long distance bus
Bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

es in Eritrea are not crowded because it is illegal for passengers to stand in the aisle. There are organized breakfast and/or lunch stops on longer trips. When traveling to remote places, like Assab
Assab
Assab is a port city in the Southern Red Sea Region of Eritrea on the west coast of the Red Sea. In 1989, it had a population of 39,600. Assab possesses an oil refinery, which was shut down in 1997 for economic reasons...

, Nakfa
Nakfa
Nakfa is* the currency of Eritrea, see Eritrean nakfa* a town in Eritrea, see Nakfa, Eritrea* a district in Eritrea, see Nakfa District...

, Tesseney or Senafe
Senafe
Senafe is a market town in southern Eritrea, on the edge of the Ethiopian highlands. The surrounding area is inhabited by the Saho people and the Tigrinya people....

, reservations should be made for the return trip in advance, to prevent being stranded.

Education


Asmara is home to the majority of colleges and universities in the country. The city has always been the centre of education in the country. It is home to many elementary and high schools, and until the recent opening of universities at Mai Nefhi
Mai Nefhi
Mai Nefhi is both a location near Asmara, Eritrea and the dam after which it was named. The Mai Nefhi dam, constructed prior to Eritrean independence, is the main water source for Asmara. The dimensions of the dam are such that it is large enough to sustain the total population of Asmara.Baarda...

 and Sawa
Sawa
Sawa may refer to:*The Sawa peoples of CameroonLocations*Sawa, Nepal*The Sawa Defence Training Centre of Eritrea*Sawa, Lesser Poland Voivodeship Arts*SAWA, Japanese techno-pop singer*Devon Sawa, Canadian actor...

, the only university in the country, the University of Asmara
University of Asmara
The University of Asmara was Eritrea's first university and is located in the capital city, Asmara. It was created by the Piae Madres Nigritiae...

. During the times of Ethiopian federation and annexation, the University of Asmara
University of Asmara
The University of Asmara was Eritrea's first university and is located in the capital city, Asmara. It was created by the Piae Madres Nigritiae...

 was linked with Mekelle University
Mekelle University
Mekelle University is located in Northern Ethiopia , at a distance of 783 kilometers from the Ethiopian capital city, Addis Ababa...

 in Mekelle, Tigray
Tigray Province
Tigray was a province of Ethiopia. The Tigray Region superseded the province with the adoption of the new constitution in 1995. The province of Tigre merged with its neighboring provinces, including Semien, Tembien, Agame and the prominent Enderta province and towards the end of 19th century it...

. Then the biggest university in the country was Addis Ababa University
Addis Ababa University
Addis Ababa University is a university in Ethiopia. It was originally named "University College of Addis Ababa" at its founding, then renamed for the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I in 1962, receiving its current name in 1975.Although the university has six of its seven campuses within...

. Since Eritrea's independence, many campus' have been opening up across the country mainly for medicine and engineering.

Schools and Universities



{| class="wikitable"
|-
! style="background:#d8e2ef; color:navy;"|Universities
! style="background:#d8e2ef; color:navy;"|Phone
! style="background:#d8e2ef; color:navy;"|Fax
|-
|University of Asmara
University of Asmara
The University of Asmara was Eritrea's first university and is located in the capital city, Asmara. It was created by the Piae Madres Nigritiae...


|(291)-1-161926
|(291)-1-162236
|-
|Eritrea Institute of Technology
Eritrea Institute of Technology
The Eritrea Institute of Technology is located on Mai Nefhi, about 20 km south west of Asmara, near the Mai Nefhi dam. It currently has three colleges: Science, Engineering and Technology, and Education. Other new colleges are also under construction elsewhere in the country in other fields...


|N/A
|N/A
|-
|Orotta Medical School
|N/A
|N/A
|-
|College of Health Science
|(291)-1-124761
|N/A
|-
|}

Districts


Asmara is divided into 13 districts or administrative areas. These districts are divided into North, North-West, North-East, South-East, South-West, East, West and Central. The thirteen districts(or Neous Zobas) are:
North
  • Acria District
  • Abbashaul District
  • Edaga Hamus District

North-West
  • Arbaete Asmara District

North-East
  • Mai Temenai District
  • Paradiso District

South-East
  • Sembel District

South-West
  • Godaif District

Central
  • Maakel Ketema District

East
  • Tiravolo District
  • Gejeret District
  • Tsetserat District

West
  • Gheza Banda District


Sister cities

Bergen, Norway Khartoum
Khartoum
Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan and of Khartoum State. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile flowing west from Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as "al-Mogran"...

, Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 Clarkston, United States
Clarkston, Georgia
Clarkston is a city in DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. The population was 7,554 at the 2010 census. The city is home to the central campus of Georgia Perimeter College....

 Atlanta, United States

Further reading

  • Stefan Boness: "Asmara - The Frozen City". Jovis Verlag, Berlin 2006. 96 pages. ISBN 3-936314-61-6 (photo book; German, English)
  • Edward Denison, Guang Yu Ren, Naigzy Gebremedhin, and Guang Yu Ren, Asmara: Africa's Secret Modernist City (2003) ISBN 1-85894-209-8
  • Gianluca Rossi, Renzo Martinelli inviato de “La Nazione”, 2009, ISBN 978-88-7255-356-5

External links


  • Asmara, Eritrea Documentary Film about the city by filmmaker Caterina Borelli
  • History of Asmara An excellent website about the city
  • JustinHillAuthor.com Ciao Asmara, VSO
    VSO
    VSO is a three-letter acronym with multiple meanings, as described below:* Voluntary Service Overseas, an international development charity* Valdosta Southern Railroad...

     volunteer Justin Hill
    Justin Hill
    Justin Hill is an English novelist whose novels have been nominated for the Man Booker Prize three times. Born in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island in 1971, he grew up in Yorkshire. He was educated at the historic St Peter's School, York....

    's book
  • Eritrea In Pictures Hundreds of pictures of Art Deco and Moderne Asmara, with some of its most and least famous beautiful buildings on
  • Ferrovia eritrea Eritrean Railway
  • Eritrea About Eritrea
  • Postcards and pictures of Italian Asmara