Located at over 2000 metres above sea level, the capital of Eritrea developed from the 1890’s onwards as a military outpost for the Italian colonial power. After 1935, Asmara underwent a large scale programme of construction applying the Italian rationalist idiom of the time to governmental edifices, residential and commercial buildings, churches, mosques, synagogues, cinemas, hotels, etc. The property encompasses the area of the city that resulted from various phases of planning between 1893 and 1941, as well as the indigenous unplanned neighbourhoods of Arbate Asmera and Abbashawel. It is an exceptional example of early modernist urbanism at the beginning of the 20th century and its application in an African context.
Asmara, 10 July 2017- At the 41 Session of the World Heritage Committee that took place on 7 July in Karkow, Poland, in which the President of Poland, Mr. Andrzej Duda and Irene Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, Ministers and high level officials as well as more than 1000 governmental and non-governmental representatives took part Asmara was inscribed UNESCO World heritage.
In a speech she delivered during the event representing the Eritrean Government, Ambassador Hanna Simon, Eritrean Ambassador to France and Permanent Representative to UNESCO, stated that the inscription of Asmara city onto the UNESCO World Heritage List is a symbol of pride and achievement for the Eritrean people and shoulders the responsibility to maintain its status.
Asmara’s inclusion on the World Heritage List for its outstanding modernist art-deco, at least 15 historical architectures as well as urban planning and its exceptional testimony of the universal aspiration for and attainment of national self-determination goes beyond merely pursuing international recognition for its cultural assets.
The Eritrean government delegation presided by Ambassador Hanna Simon, Eritrean Ambassador to France and Permanent Representative to UNESCO, Engineer Tesfalem Weldemichael head of technical department in the central region, Engineer Medhanie Teklemaryam Coordinator of Asmara Heritage Project, Mr. Yared Tesfay Director of Media Affairs at the Embassy of the State of Eritrea to UK and Ireland and Dr. Edward Denison, a researcher on Asmara Heritage Project are participating at the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee currently taking place in Krakow, Poland from July 2nd – 12th 2017.
It’s to be recalled that in December 2016, the Asmara Heritage Project (AHP) won the Royal Institute of British Architectures (RIBA) President’s Medal for Research, an exceptional honor and testimony on the world-class standard of research conducted by the AHP in preparation for the nomination of ‘Asmara: Africa’s Modernist City’ as a world heritage site.
Asmara’s inscription onto the World Heritage List will potentially benefit Eritrea in the tourism sector.
1,053 world heritage sites from 165 countries have been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List until July 2017 and that 815 of them are cultural, 203 natural and 35 are combination of both.
The World heritage sites of which 499 are located in Europe and America, 247 in Asia and Pacific, 138 in Latin America and Caribbean, 90 in Africa and 81 in Arab countries.