This month, Eritrea joined the list of significant spots on the planet that UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) has recognized as culturally and historically significant. Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, presents rare, early examples of Art Deco architecture from the beginning of the 20th century. The city's numerous Modernist buildings are products of the country's early origins as an Italian colony. From 1889 until World War II, Asmara's population was made up of half Italians and was a prominent location for Italian architects to test some of their more adventurous designs, resulting in some spectacular structures.
Not exactly known as an art hub, the small country of Eritrea, off the east coast of Africa, is more readily in the news for their substantial sanitation and food struggles of recent. A country that is steeped in rough political history and still currently under a repressive regime. As an addition to the World Heritage Site list, recipients expect that with recognition comes tourism and financial growth. As a main feature of the acclaim, Eritrea's government lobbied hard for this esteem in the hopes that it will bring pride and profit. Eritrea's financial situation however, was a point of controversy as some members thought the country could not afford to maintain the structures.
Some of the highlights seen throughout the city include an Art Deco bowling alley, Fiat service station, and numerous residencies. Each displays a radical flair that is site specific, a Modernist twist within an African context. These buildings showcase the constant creativity that was allowed to spawn in Asmara, regardless of the otherwise conservative European ideals that were so prominent during that period.