Cinema Teatro in Asmara / Eritrea


Cinema Teatro Asmara postcard

Cinema Teatro in Asmara - today Teatro Asmara - is a late eclectic historicism building in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site  Asmara: A Modernist City of Africa.

The building was designed as an opera house and was completed in 1920 according to plans by Odoardo Cavagnari (1868–1920). The design of the immediate area could no longer be completed, as the sponsoring company went bankrupt in 1924. 

The as yet unused area in the vicinity of the opera house fell to the state, which sold it to investors in 1927, who built shops and a dance hall here 10 years later. The opera house itself has been converted into a cinema. Since then, there has been a café in the foyer. The building was used as a cinema until 1957.

After the federation of Eritrea and Ethiopia in 1952, under pressure from the Ethiopian viceroy, the building was sold to the state by the Italian owners at a price that was far below its value, and according to other sources, it was sold to a son-in-law of the then Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie. 

After Eritrea gained independence in 1991/93, it was transferred to the state property of the new state. The main office of the national telephone provider Eritel is located in a side building and the actual opera house is occasionally used as a theater.

In Asmara there are still other worth seeing cinemas like Cinema Impero, Cinema Roma and Cinema Odeon.

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