With Asmara being registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List, the attention invested in the city is growing by the day. The administration of the city, professionals of all fields from Eritrea and abroad, journalists, historians, architects, artists and tourists are opening their eyes to see what this historic city is all about.
Normally, we see monuments and specific places being enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage List but in the case of Asmara it is the city with its thousands of buildings, roads, monuments and the intangible heritage, the Asmarino’s culture.
A question arises now on how to preserve and maintain the city. Professionals are being put in place to restore the beauty of Asmara in its most natural and original essence.
Italian architects used what had been an amalgamation of highland villages centuries earlier as an ‘ideal blank canvas’.
In an often-forgotten corner of the Horn of Africa, Eritrea’s capital boasts one of the world’s finest collections of early 20th-century architecture – with UNESCO awarding it World Heritage Site status earlier this year
When Italy’s colonial experiment in Eritrea ended in 1941, it left behind an array of Rationalist, Futurist, Art Deco and other Modernist styles in Asmara, a city whose historic heart has changed little since the Italians lived and worked there.
In following decades, conflict ravaged Eritrea, leaving the nation isolated and stifling development. But the violence bypassed the city, and the capital has never been swallowed by the kind of exapnsion that raced ahead elsewhere in Africa.
It’s hard not to question why Asmara was named a World Heritage Site, especially as the country is reeling from decades of hardship.
Asmara is itself a giant monument to colonial folly. When it comes to architecture, the Italians simply lost their heads.
—Michela Wrong, I Didn’t Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation
In early July 2017, Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hundreds of modernist buildings in the historic city center, built between 1935 and 1941 under Italian colonial rule, made it onto this prestigious list, along with the city of Asmara itself. This moment comes as Eritrea, which sits like a narrow, slanted pistol along the Horn of Africa, continues to face fierce criticism. Its government is considered one of the world’s most repressive regimes.
Heritage group’s work pays off as UNESCO inscribes Africa’s modernist city.
UNESCO has rewarded the diligence of the Asmara Heritage Project (AHP) by inscribing the Eritrean capital to the World Heritage List.
In 2001 the government of Eritrea imposed a moratorium on building in Asmara, following public concern over the loss of not only its historic buildings, but what that meant for the country’s collective identity. Since then the city has been meticulously documented by the Asmara Heritage Project (AHP) with the aim of achieving World Heritage status.
Last year a research paper authored by the team behind Asmara’s bid was awarded the RIBA President’s Medal for Research, something the AHP team believes played a significant part in the city’s inscription. The paper was an overview of the Nomination Dossier submitted to UNESCO on 1 February 2016.
Still need a reason to travel this year? From the English Lake District to the modernist city of Asmara, we look at the top new Unesco sites to visit from the UAE.
Last month, 26 new sites were added to Unesco’s World Heritage List, bringing the total to 1,073. Of these, 18 are cultural and three natural. For visitors from the UAE, here are the five most tourist-friendly.
This out-of-the-way site – a 230km, 3.5 hour drive from Izmir in western Anatolia – is one of the most important archaeological sites of the Greek and Roman periods in Turkey. Aphrodisias, named after its patron goddess Aphrodite, was founded in the 2nd century BC, and today’s remains include the Temple of Aphrodite, a large agora (public square), Hadrianic baths, a theatre and stadium.
Asmara, the capital of Eritrea origins back some 700 years primarily as an Italian state. The area still has artistic flavors of Italian culture, architecture and culinary traditions.
Many tourists praise the country belonging to different religions particularly Islam and Christianity as the day starts with a prayer call for Muslims followed by Christians’ prayers from cathedral. It is the safest region of the entire Africa and a source of persistent attraction to the travelers who plan and get on flights to Asmara.
Travelers are welcomed and hosted by the city at the contribution of cheap flight to Asmara. Airline companies are making their way out through the intense competition over airfare rates for the travelers and their flights to Asmara and even organizing cheap flight to Asmara.
Just as the day Asmara was liberated, Eritreans all over the world are basking in her glory and celebrating her new found fame – World Heritage Site.
Asmara woke up early on 8 July 2017, as it did for ages…the early morning call to prayers from nearby mosques and the sounds of church bells mix with the sounds of click clock from horse and donkey driven carriages, and the buses and trucks heading out of the city to villages near and far. No doubt the women were up early to clean the tree lined avenues and the city’s sidewalks-with nothing but the thatched brooms and wheelbarrows, picking up litter and washing away the dust. Cleanliness is next to godliness… and Asmara perched at 2500 feet above sea level, is heavenly.
The main purpose of a UNESCO designation is to promote worldwide support for historic and culturally-significant sites. The new UNESCO World Heritage sites announced each year also provide an opportunity to learn about beautiful locations that most of the world has never heard of. Here are 10 of the 21 new UNESCO sites that deserve a spot on your bucket list.
New UNESCO World Heritage Sites 2017
This tiny, pedestrian-only island is located off the coast of Xiamen in southeastern China, and only 20 minutes away by ferry from the major city. The former international settlement is home to famous beaches and a blend of architectural styles.
Taputapuatea, French Polynesia
Taputapuatea is located on Ra’iatea Island and is home to one of the new UNESCO World Heritage sites, the marae complex, which was the ceremonial center of the ancient ma’ohi civilization.
It can resemble a most haphazard series of coronations – of kings both magnificent and miniature. The annual announcement of the new set of sites receiving Unesco World Heritage status – a declaration which occurs every July (whc.unesco.org) – tends to stir feelings of both familiarity and bemusement. Some landmarks granted a rubberstamp of quality by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – to use its full title – seem like unquestionable candidates for this seal of approval. Some seem so deserving of official respect that you wonder why they haven’t been heralded before. And others make you pause for a moment, consult the map – and wonder who would go there.
The 2017 roll call is no different. In all, 26 locations are being handed their Unesco orb and sceptre. Some are crucial nuggets of yesteryear in France, Turkey, Croatia, Italy and Iran.