WebsiteCategory: European Colonial Influences
Area: approx 4.8 km2
Criteria: (ii) interchange of values
(iv) icon of an era
Location and Values: Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, lies on a highland plateau in the centre of the country, perched above the Red Sea in north-east Africa. It is an exceptional example of early modernist urban development at the beginning of the 20th century and its application in Africa.
The world heritage site covers a large part of the city incorporating the area that best exemplifies the modernisation of urban planning and development by the Italian colonial power, and the contrasting unplanned neighbourhoods nearby. The ‘modernist city’ emerged through successive periods of urban planning over the Italian colonial period from 1893 to 1941. It is characterised by an urban layout based on an orthogonal grid of streets (with some diagonal axes), and the development of a large number of buildings designed according to the distinctive early modernist and rationalist architectural thinking of the day.
Slideshow of the Asmara world heritage site: The slideshow shows a number of the modernist buildings and urban environment of Asmara, including the opera house, Fiat Taglieri service station, St Mary’s orthodox cathedral, Grand Mosque and the Cinema Impero. Most of the photographs are kindly contributed by David Stanley through flickr.com, with others by Lucia Tarantola and Andrea Moroni. Each photo is individually attributed by way of a watermark.
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of the Asmara world heritage area on Google Earth, click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing. The window opens to provide an overview of the designated area, showing the formal road layout with the informal area of Abbashawel at the top (north) of the image.
Other Links: Official UNESCO Site Details