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Asmara (Asmera)
Agordat (Akordat)
Assab (Asseb)
Dahlak islands
Dekemhare (Decemhare)
Ghinda (Ginda)
Keren (Cheren)
Massawa (Massauwa)
Mendefera (Adi Ugri)
Nakfa (Nacfa)
Semenawi Bahri (Filfil)
Tessenei (Teseney)



Massawa (Mitsiwa, Massauwa) Eritrea


Two islands and the mainland together form Massawa. They are connected by two causeways. Apart from the salt ponds  there is not much of interest in the mainland part of Massawa although this is where the majority of the population live. The first of the two islands is called Taulud with the war memorial, the St. Mariam's Cathedral, the old railway station, the Dahlak hotel and the Imperial Palace. Crossing the second causeway you enter the rather Moorish port area of town. This part of Massawa, called Batse, still has great charm, especially at night when the little alleyways between the Turkish, Egyptian and Italian buildings come alive. One of the foremost attractions of Massawa, both day and night, are the bars and restaurants.

Massawa was once the largest and safest port on the east coast of Africa but suffered terrible damage during the war. Massawa used to be the headquarters of the Ethiopian navy. It was fought over by both sides during the struggle for Eritrean independence. To this day Massawa remains the largest natural deep-water port on the Red Sea. It is now Eritrea's main port and access to the rest of the world and is being rehabilitated. The dockyard is back in operation and handling an impressive tonnage of merchandise. Numerous houris from Yemen and Saudi Arabia intermingle with larger ships.

Massawa is the departure point for trips to the Dahlak islands and diving expeditions. One can enjoy the sights with the minimum of hassle and maximum safety. Fishing craft are slowly returning. Massawa is a historical and cultural melting pot. Sheikh Said Island (or Green Island) is just opposite Taulud, the first of Massawa's islands reached by crossing the first causeway. It is ideal for a day trip/picnic and not expensive to reach.

North of Massawa is the white sandy beach of Gurgusum. The beaches are clean and uncrowded. It is a good place to sunbathe, for swimming, sailing, (scuba) diving or snorkeling.

Although the places of interest all are within a distance of less then 5 kilometers of the Dahlak Hotel and Hotel Central, the usually high temperatures do not invite the visitor to walk for more then 30 minutes. It is essential to take a water bottle on every trip when traveling to or walking in the surroundings of Massawa (and the Dahlak Islands)!

The best restaurants in Massawa are the Eritrean Restaurant, which serves good and cheap meals, pasta's, steaks, grilled fish and salads. Salaam is a fish restaurant in the old part of town. This very modest restaurant serves large portions of grilled fish for very reasonable prices on tables in the open air.


Anniversary of Fenkil Operation - Liberation of Massawa 1990.

Special event / National Holiday 10 February 10: Operation Fenkil Anniversary, a remembrance of the last days of the war fought to liberate the city of Massawa (1990). The three tanks at the end of the first causeway were the main military hardware, used by the EPLF in the operation Fenkil. They now serve as a statue, at the spot where they halted in February 1990, in memory of those who gave their lives for the liberation of Massawa.


Massawa - main port of Eritrea
Map of Massawa Eritrea Map of Massawa Eritrea - legend



Resume of hotel accommodation in Massawa
Name Address Rooms Phone Fax
Beilul Hotel     551 905  
Central Hotell P.O. Box 349 24 552 002 552 608
Corallo Hotel P.O. Box 158 25 552 406  
Dahlak Hotel P.O. Box 21 200 552 818 552 782
Gedem Hotel P.O. Box 166 89 552 057  
Gurgusum Beach Hotel P.O. Box 5354 89 552 911 552 872
Hamasien Beach Hotel P.O. Box 225 31 552 725  
Luna Hotel P.O. Box 91 15 552 272  
Red Sea Hotel P.O. Box 180   552 839 552 544
Savoya Hotel     552 872  
Seghen International Hotel P.O. Box 221 24 540 029 541 166
Torino Hotel     552 855  



View over Massawa - the dockyards and the old town.

View over Massawa - the dockyards and the old town.

Massawa picture book > > >


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