In 1890 Eritrea was declared an Italian colony with Massawa as its capital. Later, in 1987, due to the climate favorable to Europeans, being located at around 2,300 meters above sea level, Asmara became the new capital. During the 1930s and 1940s the colony underwent a major modernization project : roads, ports, railways and entire neighborhoods of the capital were built. Much of the city of Asmara was created between 1936 and 1941, the year the British defeated the Italians after the outbreak of World War II. Today Asmara, is known for its “Art Deco” and “fascist style” architecture.
So unusual for one of the poorest African countries, in conflict for a long time with neighboring Ethiopia, closed off and isolated from the whole world for decades, Asmara town still retains an apparently calm and iconic atmosphere of Italy in the 1930s. Along the main street, a wide avenue lined with palm trees, the city showcases the ancient Italian buildings. While the women mostly wear the clothes of the Eritrean culture, the older men, who still speak Italian, are dressed in old classic suits mostly worn out by time, but still with a touch of elegant Italian style. Every Sunday they follow the old colonial rituals: enjoying a delicious espresso at the bar served strictly with a glass of water aside, walking and chatting in front of the majestic rationalist architecture of the “Cinema Impero”.