The 2nd largest city in Eritrea after Asmara, Massawa is an historic port city situated in the Northern Red Sea region. The City grew in prominence between the 18th and 19th centuries as a major port of call for merchant ships on the Red Sea.
Because of its ample location, Massawa drew interest from Britain, the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, Italy and Portugal; all of whom attempted to colonize the region. Massawa was the first capital of Eritrea when Italy established a colony here in 1885 and maintained this status until 1897 when it was replaced by Asmara.
The city is still the key port of Eritrea and serves the country and neighboring regions. Massawa is a lively town with a number of restaurants, pubs and cafes. The restaurants here have a reputation for serving tasty seafood fresh from the Red Sea. There are also a number of scenic white sandy beaches within easy reach from the city centre. There is also a variety of hotels and motels.