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Eritrea: Eritrean Religions

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Eritrean Religions | Eritrea | Africa

[Visited: January 2004]

Waking up in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, can be accompanied by a simultaneous call to prayer from the muezzin and the sounding of the bell of the cathedral. Not surprisingly in a country with two main religions, it is remarkable how well both live together in this country. Amongst the Christians, the Orthodox Church is the largest group. They all have their own landmarks all over Asmara and, to a lesser degree, also in other parts of the country. Islam is present mainly in the coastal regions and towards Sudan, while Christians are prevalent in many parts of the highland.

Picture of Eritrean Religions (Eritrea): Small mosque of Iddi

There is the Cathedral, a building which could very well have been built in Northern Italy itself. Right on Liberation Avenue, it is a landmark of the city with its tall belltower. The Cathedral itself is closed most of the day to keep out the homeless, but it is possible, upon request, to climb the tower and visit the church. There, you can see a plaque naming none other than Mussolini as one of the benefactors of the Cathedral. Then, there is the Orthodox church, a unique combination of local and Italian architecture and a place to go on Orthodox festivities.

Picture of Eritrean Religions (Eritrea): Bell tower of Cathedral of Asmara

In Asmara, there is the Kulafah Al Rashidin mosque, another example of a mixture between Italian and Muslem architecture. The more interesting and attractive mosques, I thought, were those in Iddi. Built right on the sand of the village, they show how a simple structure can be convincing in its message. These mosques were sympathetic little structures, naturally blending in the small fishing village without dominating it.

Picture of Eritrean Religions (Eritrea): Eritrean religions together: minaret, church, Orthodox tower
Picture of Eritrean Religions (Eritrea): Cathedral of Asmara
Picture of Eritrean Religions (Eritrea): Praying woman at door of Orthodox Church, Asmara
Picture of Eritrean Religions (Eritrea): Asmara: Cathedral seen from below
Picture of Eritrean Religions (Eritrea): Great Mosque of Asmara
Picture of Eritrean Religions (Eritrea): Minaret of mosque of Iddi
Picture of Eritrean Religions (Eritrea): Italian bell in Asmara Cathedral

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