TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY JENNY VAUGHAN.A man picks up a bowling ball in the Asmara bowling alley in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, on July 20, 2013. Eritrea's capital Asmara boasts buildings unlike anywhere else in Africa, a legacy of its Italian colonial past, when architects were given free reign for structures judged too avant garde back home. Yet while many of the buildings survived unscathed from a decades long liberation war from Ethiopia that ravaged settlements elsewhere, today, preservation and restoration projects have been hampered, threatening to erode the country's rich cultural heritage. AFP PHOTOS / JENNY VAUGHAN        (Photo credit should read JENNY VAUGHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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An unexpectedly delightful capital city, Asmara is dotted with marvellous art deco and modernist architecture, authentic street-front coffee shops that make for prime people-watching, and sobering testaments to the many difficult years of fighting in the lead up to, and ensuing years since, independence. Also, as long as travel restrictions remain in place for the rest of the country, Asmara offers the most freedom to travellers, with anywhere within 25km of the city fair game for exploration without needing to apply for travel permits.


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Flanked by two bland, sand-coloured buildings is the red, sleek-looking Cinema Imperio. Above the cantelevered cement awning that runs the length of the building are three symetrical rows of window climbing vertically up the building. On one side of them 'CINEMA' is written vertically in bold gold letters, on the other side is 'IMPERIO' © Stephen Lioy / Photography and Travel Media


Should Eritrea be on your horizon?

Oct 12, 2018 • 6 min read


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