Asmara: Unlikely home to Modernist Architecture

Asmara, a city in Eritrea in North East Africa, is an unlikely treasure trove of standing modernist architecture.

Asmara, a city with just over half a million people in the country of Eritrea on the North Eastern Coast of Africa, is a secret treasure trove of standing modernist architecture.

Recently proposed as an addition to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Asmara, approximately the size of Port Elizabeth, has over a thousand buildings featuring paradigm examples of modernist and art deco architecture in the world.

Also known as "Little Rome", Asmara was occupied by the Italians under the rule of Benito Mussolini in the late 20th century. Under his rule, the Italians experimented with futuristic designs in architecture and town planning. This lead to construction in a variety of architectural styles such Art Deco, Futurism and Novecento in this African country. Most of the structures were built between 1935 and 1941, which ultimately means this city was built in six years.

Some of the more famous sites include the Art Deco Cinema Impero, considered one of the best examples of Art Deco architecture in the world, and the Fiat Tagliero building, which is petrol station based on the shaped of an aeroplane.

The city of Asmara is considered one of the safest and cleanest cities on the African continent with an almost peaceful and crime free environment.