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Asmara: The Ever Thriving City (Part III)

Al-Qulafa Al Rashidieen Mosque and St. Mary Church
Asmara is indeed a perfect place to live in. Its optimal temperature is measured an average of around 20 0c, but during the summer time it goes below 0 0c. This good temperature invites one to make tours with comfort. Everything one sees across the streets is just a feast for the eyes. In the course of making tours many things may invite one to make a closer and detailed observation. Asmara is a city where people from all walks of life engage in varied fields of work and make tours in the evening hours just to ease the exhaustion of toils at work places through just taking the multifaceted advantages the city has to offer. Senior citizens in particular take advantage of the city’s favorable weather through basking to take enjoyable warmth of the sun during the morning hours and in the afternoon hours before six p.m. These people, the senior citizens, knew the early development of Asmara and have passed through the very harsh conditions of colonial times.

Like all Eritreans, Mr. Abdela Mahmud Ibrahim, one of the senior citizens in Asmara, was forced to bear the atrocities, imprisonment and a number of brutal acts of colonizers. Mr. Abdela delightfully expressed his feelings of being a free person, who fully enjoys the fruits of independence which is for him a unique opportunity he is destined to experience. “Asmara is being developed through the hard work of nationals,” he said. “Praise the Almighty, we have achieved our independence.”

It is very common to see Mosques and Churches standing side by side or at gap of a very closer distance. Built in 1938 Al-Qulafa Al Rashideen Mosque and also built based on indigenous construction system St. Mary Church are situated in the same area at a nearby distance. This shows that like in many part of Eritrea, Muslims and Christians in Asmara have been living in harmony ever since the introduction of the two religions. Apart from being places of worship, these temples have also architectural importance. The designs and wall paintings have their own attraction.

160 km of Asmara’s streets are asphalted roads and about 4 km are still dirty roads. The availability of such a smoothly paved road in fact enables the inhabitants of Asmara and village around the city get good transportation access. Daily, buses and minibuses for about 16 hours and taxis for 24 hours render effective services. As an indication to the good services it offers to beneficiaries, public transport services of the Central region received a gold medal from International Quality Summit Award New York 2005.

Beautiful buildings are gaining extraordinary beauty with the infrastructures that have been laid in different areas of the city. As beautifully painted background adds extra attractiveness to a carefully drawn painting, asphalted roads are to beautifully architected buildings. So, Asmara owns well planned streets. One could see unblemished scene that holds beauty in its entirety.

Let’s see Asmara’s art deco buildings one by one. As Asmara was built by Benito Mussolini to be a second Roma in Africa, most of its art deco buildings are representation of colonial aspirations but beautifully architected and

Fiat Tagliero
very fascinating buildings. Some of the very magnificent buildings include Fiat Tagliero-which is designed in an image of an airplane that is apparently about to take off, head quarter of Italian fascist party which is now Ministry of Education, is also an “F” shaped building and the post office was built in the same period. Built in 1899, Albergo Italia (Former Keren hotel) is one of the first hotels in Eritrea. The state palace and cinema Roma that are now renovated without affecting their original designs are also among the art deco buildings that were built in the 1920s and early 1930s. These buildings and many other qualities make Asmara among world’s best cities.

The Lonely planet website has ranked top 10 cities from around the world based on the resources they embrace, and also their significance in the tourism industry as well as based on their beauty and the pleasing comfort they possess. According to the lonely planet’s ranking, Asmara has become among first five of the top 10 cities of the world consecutively in 2010 and 2011. Asmara is described as Africa’s beautiful city in this Website. The website also highlighted that Asmara’s beauty was not visible as it was considered as a war zone during the Ethiopian colonial period. But, owing to its admirable peace and tranquility, today’s Asmara is one of the beauties and safest tourists’ destination.

Built almost in a very close time frame, Asmara’s cinemas are also admirably beautiful. Taking into account its interior painting decorations and sculptures and generally its unique architectural design, Cinema Asmara is, however, ranked as the beauties of all cinemas in the city. This cinema was also finalized in 1920. Despite the availability of a number of satellite channels and home cinemas, the inhabitants of Asmara have continued to visit cinemas to watch varied local films as well as concerts. Any visitor prefers watching films, football matches and other shows in the presence of a number of people to take advantage of the mood created by the setting and company of others and to share views of what they have watched in these cinemas.

Exterior and Interior view of Cinema Asmara
Besides watching films, the inhabitants of Asmara wake early to watch cycling races that is conducted on Sundays. At times, when there are no scheduled contests, cyclists in Asmara are engaged in trainings that is even in Sundays. It is to be noted that Asmara is very conducive for conducting any sort of sports activities. Owing to the admirable achievements the cyclists registered in varied international contests, Eritrea has been ranked as Africa’s first in this field of sport. Yonatan Mesfun- a member of National Cycling Team during the African Continental Championship that was held last year in Asmara- said that cycling competitions in Asmara have been conducted at professional level. He describes his views of the overall competence of the cyclists in this country as follows:

Those who have been competing in international cycling races are just a smaller portion of the overall national capability. I am very confident that a number of professional cyclists would soon emerge in many folds of that we see today. Everybody engaging in cycling would follow the footsteps of the model cyclists and would not only sustain the victories that have been achieved in this field but would go beyond it. As this has been a good legacy that has to be enhanced, we are looking ahead to register extraordinary achievement.

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