Eritrea is one of the most conservative and tightly regulated countries in Africa. It was involved in a long battle for independence with Ethiopia for much of the later half of the 20th century. Today, the situation is calm but travel restrictions are in place and permits are required to visit most of the places.
Eritrea’s capital Asmara has managed to preserve its historic landmarks and colonial buildings. It is easy to explore the art deco architecture on a walking tour of Asmara. Unlike the rest of the country, there is no requirement of travel permit in the city. Located in the outskirts of the city, the tank graveyard is another point of interest in the city and a grim reminder of the devastation caused by the decades of fighting with Ethiopia. About 120 kilometres north-east of Asmara, the coastal town of Massawa is another architecturally rich city in Eritrea with a mixture of Ottoman, Egyptian and Italian buildings. The city, however, suffered heavy bombing during the Independence War and most of its remaining colonial buildings are fading away without proper care from the government. Semi-destroyed Imperial Palace is Massawa’s most recognized landmark. Eritrea’s second-largest city Keren is surrounded by hills on all sides and is known primarily for its traditional camel market. Around 100 kilometers south-east of Asmara lies the ruins of Qohaito, accessed from the town of Adi Keih. Spread across several kilometers, the ruins are listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, and it can easily take a few hours just to explore the main sights.
Keep in mind that the country lacks a tourist-friendly atmosphere. Several restrictions have been imposed on both its citizens and tourists. For example, be extra careful while taking pictures since it is strictly prohibited in various sites (mostly government buildings). However, if you seek a unique African destination to explore, Eritrea can be one of the options.
Eritrea is one of the most conservative and tightly regulated countries in Africa.