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.


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

(via David Stanley)

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

(via Wikimedia Commons)

A villa built in 1910

(via Wallpaper)

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

(via David Stanley)

Fascist Party Headquarters, built in 1928

(via Wallpaper)

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

(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.

(via David Stanley and Carsten ten Brink)

Cinema Augustus, 1938

(via Wallpaper)

The Old Bristol pension

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

The former City Sanitation Office, now a garage

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

(via Charles Roffey)

Cinema Roma

(via fofto SU foto)

Asmara Town Hall

(via The Come Up Show and Charles Roffey)

Villa Venezia

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

(via David Stanley)

A mosaic on a cotton factory

(via Charles Roffey)

Odeon Cinema

(via Carsten ten Brink)

IRGA building, constructed in 1961, designed by Carlo Mazzetti

(via David Stanley)

Inside the Central Post Office

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

On the streets

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

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