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[dehai-news] (Castanet) Asmara, Eritrea - an African gem!

From: Biniam Tekle <biniamt_at_dehai.org_at_dehai.org>
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2011 08:43:38 -0500

http://www.castanet.net/edition/news-story-68607-993-.htm#68607

Asmara, Eritrea - an African gem!
by Contributed - Story: 68607
Dec 19, 2011 / 5:00 am

Asmara, the capital of the country or Eritrea - located on the horn of
Africa, boasts the most shining collection of colonial architectural
wonders in Africa. It is like a film set from an early Italian movie, with
vintage Italian coffee machines and outstanding examples of Art-Deco
architecture. This hidden African gem remains barely touched by the hand of
tourism yet it's definitely one of Africa's most peaceful, secure and
welcoming destinations.

Peaceful neighbourhoods, pavement cafés, pizza parlours, pastry shops, a
relaxed pace of life -you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a southern
Italian town. The climate is a feature of its own: Asmara is bathed in
sunshine eight months of the year. Asmara is possibly the safest African
capital for travelers. It is one of the cleanest cities in Africa. The
streets are elegantly lined with palms and a string of boutiques,
coffee-shops and restaurants.

With a population of over 600,000 people the city boasts a 700 year
history; even having legend as the city where the Queen of Sheba gave birth
to the son of Solomon, Menelik I. Under thirty years of Ethiopian
occupation, the city was allowed to deteriorate, but it still retains its
essential beauty and since coming under Eritrean control in 1991 it has
been undergoing a rapid improvement in infrastructure, building repairs and
repainting. Between 1936 and 1941, Asmara was a blank canvas on which its
Italian colonizers were able to design and build their own urban utopia in
East Africa. The artists, architects and engineers who came to practice
there could escape the constraints imposed on their activities in the more
conservative European environment, making it an even more exceptional city
than one can initially imagine. Today it is estimated that under 1,000
Italians remain inhabitants of this city. However there an estimated
100,000 descendants of Italian Eritreans living within the city's borders.

Christians and Muslims have lived peacefully together in Asmara for
centuries setting a fine example in harmony and unity. The towns and
villages surrounding the city in the highlands are predominantly Christian.
The city is home to the "We Are the Future" center, a child care facility
giving children a chance to live their childhoods and develop a sense of
hope. The center is managed under the direction of the mayor’s office, and
the international NGO Glocal Forum serves as the fundraiser and program
planner and coordinator for the WAF child center in each city. Each WAF
city is linked to several peer cities and public and private partners to
create a unique international coalition. Launched in 2004, the program is
the result of a strategic partnership between the Glocal Forum, the Quincy
Jones Listen Up Foundation, with the support of the World Bank, UN agencies
and major companies. Asmara has been proposed as a possible new addition to
the UNESCO World Heritage Site List, for its outstanding examples of 20th
century architecture and town planning. The Historic Center of Asmara was
placed on the World Monuments Fund's 2006 Watch List of 100 Most Endangered
Sites. The listing was designed to bring more attention to the city to save
the center from decay and redevelopment and to promote restoration.

Asmara's very diverse cultural heritage is obvious: three of the most
prominent landmarks in the city are the Catholic Cathedral, the Al Khulafa
Al Rashiudin Mosque and the ENda Mariam Coptic Cathedral. Not far from the
Cathedral is the very busy Shuq district, with its stalls of fruits and
vegetables, spices, chickens and eggs, furniture, ceramics, and clothes.

The city is easily accessible by regular scheduled flights into the main
airport. Navigation through the city is pleasant with clean city busses and
taxi cabs offering negotiable rates. There are hundreds of hotel offerings
for any type of traveller from budget hostels to luxurious five-star
accommodations offering the finest in luxurious treatments.

Have a coffee with your travel agent and learn more about visiting this
hidden African gem!



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Received on Mon Dec 19 2011 - 11:03:18 EST
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