Asmara Tour Through a Russian Tourist Lens

  • The Eritreans fought Ethiopia for a long time to gain their independence
  • And gained it
  • Ethiopia now no longer has access to the sea. And the famous Russian poet Pushkin’s ancestral homeland is now Eritrea.
  • A beautiful country
  • With beautiful insurance and inspection slips on windshields
  • With beautiful license plates (in three sizes: compact, regular horizontal, and miniature horizontal)
  • With beautiful payphones
  • With beautiful post boxes
  • Bikes are never chained here. There’s no theft in Eritrea. If you forget your camera at a café, someone will take it to the police
  • An Eritrean klutz at the factory
  • Smoking is bad for you
  • Use condoms
  • Use a mosquito net while you sleep
  • Bundle up your children to protect them from mosquitos
  • Weigh your children regularly
  • There’s a custom of posting obituaries in heavily trafficked places (just like in Bulgaria, Montenegro, Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Kosovo)
  • A variety of stop signs from different eras have survived here
  • A “children” sign
  • All buses are decorated with vertical metal bars on the back. These are customarily used to attach cargo and water canisters
  • Due to fuel shortages, there are practically no cars on the roads. Herds of wild baboons roam the highways in their place

By (Travel),

ERITREA is a remarkable country. All sorts of horror stories are written about it everywhere. There’s hunger there, there’s fascism there, there’s communism there, the people there are not allowed to leave their country, photography is forbidden there, it’s doomsday there. The country ranks 178th out of 178 in terms of freedom of speech.

In reality, it’s the most pleasant, charming, friendly and open country to be found in East Africa. You can photograph to your heart’s content. Drink wine. There’s espresso on every corner. 

  • Where else would you see a brand-name Grundig store with neon signs?
  • Art-Deco-era movie theaters
  • Old Italian insurance plaques
  • Artifacts which have long disappeared from Europe
  • A Fiat service center shaped like an airplane
  • At cafés and stores, the cashier operates separately from the sales clerk. You pay the cashier first, get a receipt, and then bring it to the salesperson to receive your items
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Shoe stores customarily hang their goods right in the window on suction cups
  • Antiques
  • An old pharmacy
  • A modern pharmacy
  • A café. The Italians left an indelible mark on the country—every café here has an espresso machine
  • The post office
  • The traffic lights are turned off during the first half of the day. They’re switched on towards evening, when cars begin driving around the city
  • A reserved parking sign
  • An Asmara trash can
  • A perfume and cosmetics advertising display in the street
  • A banner over the road celebrating International Women’s Day
  • A street sign
  • A taxi stand
  • A bus stop
  • A fire hydrant
  • The downtown area somewhat resembles Havana
  • The city is bursting with blooming jacaranda tree
  • The outskirts of the city are home to a tank and truck graveyard, containing primarily Soviet military vehicles which were used by the Ethiopian army


An absolutely stunning museum of a city. In the 1930s, the Italians put up a multitude of beautiful buildings, shops and villas here. Few tourists have set foot in the city since. In large part, this is due to numerous warnings on the Internet: “Traveling to Eritrea for tourism purposes is strongly inadvisable.”

Asmara – A City above the clouds