Asmara, Eritrea: A Forgotten Piece of Italy in Africa

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Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, was an Italian colony between 1890 and 1941. The city was populated by a large Italian community (53,000 of 98,000 inhabitants in 1939), so the architecture is a unique blend of Italian modernism and Eritrean style. Here are the most amazing examples.

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The city center was rebuilt in various styles during the colonial decades: Neo-Romanesque, Late Victorian, Art Deco, Cubist, Rationalist, Novecento and Neo-Baroque, among others.

This Modernist city in Africa was also a dream of Benito Mussolini, because he believed it would become the capital of the Second Roman Empire.

The city from above

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(via David Stanley)

Hotel Albergo Italia – this was the best in the city when it opened in 1899

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(via Wikimedia Commons)

A villa built in 1910

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(via Wallpaper)

The Cathedral of Asmara, built in the Lombard-Romanesque style, with a Gothic tower, inaugurated in 1922

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(via David Stanley)

Fascist Party Headquarters, built in 1928

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(via Wallpaper)

Cinema Impero, an Art Deco-style cinema designed in Mario Messina, built in 1937

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(via Charles Roffey)

Fiat Tagliero building, an airplane-shaped Futurist Style petrol and service station, designed by Guiseppe Pettazzi, completed in 1938. It has 98ft (30 m) long concrete wings on each side.

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(via David Stanley and Carsten ten Brink)

Cinema Augustus, 1938

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(via Wallpaper)

The Old Bristol pension

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A service station designed by Carlo Marchi and Carlo Montalbetti in the 1930s

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The former City Sanitation Office, now a garage

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The Nda Mariam Orthodox Church, with an impressive mosaic by the Italian painter Nenne Sanguineti Poggi during the 1950s

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(via Charles Roffey)

Cinema Roma

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(via fofto SU foto)

Asmara Town Hall

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(via The Come Up Show and Charles Roffey)

Villa Venezia

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A bowling alley built in the 1950s to entertain American troops stationed in the city

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(via David Stanley)

A mosaic on a cotton factory

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(via Charles Roffey)

Odeon Cinema

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(via Carsten ten Brink)

IRGA building, constructed in 1961, designed by Carlo Mazzetti

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(via David Stanley)

Inside the Central Post Office

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An Art Deco villa, now used as the World Bank Building in the country

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On the streets

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(via David Stanley, Charles Roffey, Carsten ten Brink, Kate Brown and fofto SU foto)

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Bonus: People watching a football game inside the television room of Casa degli Italiani, a restaurant in Asmara

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DISCUSSION

By
LoudFunnyWords

I really cannot say enough about posts like these! It is always a pleasure to be taken on a brief tour of unusual locations, and enjoy the architecture. In this instance, the hybrid of influences is oddly satisfying, yet somewhat bleak.

Thanks for the tour!