Asmara Bowling Alley - The most unique in the world.

The Asmara Bowling alley – A near 70 year old relic of the 20th century first used by the US military during their use of the Kagnew station in Asmara, Eritrea. The Americans are long gone, but the alley remains.

Over the course of its lifetime the bowling centre has never had a touch up. From the street it looks like a disused old warehouse. A single bowling pin sign lit up on the outside gives it away to passers by.

Once you open the door however, you’re hit with a grandiose beam of light, sound and smell. The stained glass upper windows create a ambient glow that glides across the alley to the back cafe come evening time.

Bowling alley in Asmara
Local man in Asmara Bowling Alley

Relic of a Bygone Era

Look to your right on entry to see retired men wearing fedoras playing Carambole; a version of billiards similar to the Italian game of Boccette. The table is Italian made, a leftover from the colonial occupation from the early 20th century.

In the back lies a single espresso machine dating from the 1960s and probably worth a fortune in today’s trendy coffee scene in the west. The coffee served up was unpretentious and without fault.

Now to the bowling. Included with every game was your very own personal scorekeeper. 15 year old Tekeste had the difficult job of trying to keep tabs on 7 wayward throwing foreigners. With each throw he put pencil to paper and managed the math perfectly.

kids at the bowling alley in Asmara
Kids replacing bowling pins in Asmara, Eritrea
at the bowling alley in Asmara, Eritrea

Manual Handlers

After the first throw it immediately became evident that the pin replacement mechanism wasn’t functioning. Instead each lane was staffed with its own manual handler.

These incredible kids were all in their early teens and lived out of the bowling alley. Sleeping bags and pillows lay stacked behind each lane.

Midway through the game the players became so intrigued by these guys we decided to abandon game and go and hang out with them in the back alley,

Hours past, high on espresso we bid farewell to our bowling alley friends safe in the knowledge that that in a city of incredible experiences, this one topped the lot.

Kids working at the bowling alley in Asmara

Travel to Eritrea

There’s really nowhere else on the planet quite like Eritrea. Cut off from the outside world for years, visiting the country is like stepping back in time.

The UNESCO capital city of Asmara is a living and breathing outdoor museum of Italian colonial history. The rest of the country is untouched, full of character just like Asmara bowling alley and is waiting for your visit. Check out our Eritrea tours and contact for more information on visiting this special land.

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Rocky road travel founder Shane Horan at the DMZ

Shane Horan


When Shane is not endlessly writing award winning content for Rocky Road, he's usually kayaking to and from the beer garden along Berlin's River Spree.