Eritrea travel guide

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by roby_hani


On the crossroads between Africa and the Middle East

This geographically diverse nation on Africa’s Red Sea coast has, throughout much of its history, been under the influence of outside forces. And now, even though the foreign occupiers are long gone, the effects of their cultural imports remain. Asmara, the capital and largest urban area, has maintained much of its ancient Islamic flavor, yet its restaurants and avenues now have a decidedly Mediterranean feel, leading many visitors to dub it “New Rome.” Examples of Italian colonial architecture, such as the national opera house and impressive St. Joseph’s Cathedral, center around Harnet Avenue. After a long day of touring the sights, wind your evening down at one of the capital’s many roadside cafes, where you sample some of Africa’s best coffee. For a glimpse into Eritrea’s historical status as an important commercial hub, venture out to the coastal town of Massawa, which fell under the rule of Egyptians, Ottomans, Europeans and Ethiopians before the country won its independence in 1991. A stroll through the old town’s maze of milk-colored, coral stone buildings and intricately-carved doors will make visitors feel as though they’ve stepped back in time. Massawa is also the principal gateway to the Dahlak Archipelago, which is Eritrea’s main destination for SCUBA diving, snorkeling and pearl fishing. Keren, the country’s second-largest city, is renowned for its WWII cemeteries, and the cave dwellings of Debre Sina monastery.

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