BBC News

Eritrea capital Asmara makes World Heritage list

image copyrightAFP
image captionThe UN cultural agency Unesco has added Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, to its list of World Heritage sites. The country still holds many well-preserved modernist buildings from the time when it was ruled by Italy (1889-1941).
image copyrightAFP
image captionUnesco said Asmara was "an exceptional example of early modernist urbanism at the beginning of the 20th century and its application in an African context". This bowling alley was built in the era in an art deco style.
image copyrightAFP
image captionEritrean authorities declared the city a national monument in 2001, and had been attempting for years to gain recognition for its architectural heritage.
image copyrightAFP
image captionMore than 400 modernist buildings survive, having lived through a decades-long conflict with Ethiopia.
image copyrightAFP
image captionFamous among them is the Fiat Tiaglero building, a petrol station shaped as an aeroplane. Built in 1938, it now stands empty.
image copyrightSTEVE FORREST/ Getty Images
image captionThe garage, which was still in use when this photograph was taken in 1999, is a prime example of how European architects would go to the city to develop work deemed too wacky in their home countries.
image copyrightAFP
image captionThe Cinema Impero, completed in 1937, still holds screenings for thousands of Eritrean cinemagoers. The country's representative to Unesco, Hanna Simon, said the announcement filled the city with "tremendous pride and joy but also with a profound sense of responsibility and duty".
image copyrightAFP
image captionThe central post office was completed between 1915 and 1916. Advocates for the city have warned the buildings are not receiving the financial investment they need.
image copyrightReuters
image captionTheir addition to the list means that if Unesco judges them to be in danger, it may step in to preserve them. But unlike Hebron's Old City, added to the list earlier this week, Asmara has not been noted to be in particular danger.
image copyrightDan Kitwood/ Getty Images
image captionMbanza Kongo in Angola and Khomani in South Africa (pictured) were both also added to the World Heritage list on Saturday.

Related Topics

  • Unesco World Heritage sites
  • Unesco
  • Eritrea

More on this story

  • Unesco declares Hebron's Old City Palestinian World Heritage site