The man who inveited us in the Akakos House showed us also a decorated room with benches along the walls. You can drink tea here or have a meal of the Libyan cuisine.
The only thing is you have to order this in advance. But in case you have enough of all the chicken restaurants with bright lights and barren walls, this can be another option.
The Akakos House that we found on our way to the souk has more surprises. It was not only a gallery showing masks and other wooden sculptures. It was a nicily decorated house (picture1 &2) with ethnographic and historical exhibitions in several rooms.
So we saw colourfull shoes and boots (picture 5), several utensiles and pictures (picture 4) and Tuareg items like a camel saddle and bag.
Walking in the city centre, I took pictures of a Turkish House (picture 1). It turned to be the Akakos House. We were invited to enter (picture 2).
In the colourfully painted innercourt (picture 5) and in the rooms we saw several wooden sculptures (picture 3 & 4). A business card at the wall was saying it is the work of artist Ali Alwkwak. It was not only nice to see the artwork, but also the nicily decorated house itself.
Sharia Omar al-Mukhtar is the main street in the citycentre of Benghazi. It's a lovely looking pedestrian area. At both sides of the Italian renovated street are white coloured arcades with lots of shops. It's an easygoing area to walk, to do some windowshopping or buy some souvenirs or clothes. We found an interesting Africa shop.
The futuristic building at the corniche of Lake 23 July, which is looking like a tent, is the Green Book Building. They told us, that it is a study centre, a so called mataba.
In the Green Book Muammar Gadhafi has elaborated a set of philosophies. I had heard of this book when I travelled in Ghana in the eighties, so I looked for this green book the first time I travelled in Libya in 1999. I found it in in a bookshop in Sabha, the first town after I came out of the desert.
The first part of the book is about the start of the era of the Jamahriyat, the state of the masses. The second part is about the economic revolution. The third part is about the social revolution with subjects as the family, the tribe, woman, minorities, black people, education, music & art and sport.
The former Italian Cathedral in Benghazi is built between 1929 and 1939. The building a is landmark close to the corniche by its two characteristic green domes which can be seen from the waterfront. The cathedral was one of the largest churches in North Africa.
The cathedral is converted into a mosque and later also used as headquarters for the Arab Socialist Union. When I visited Benghazi in 2006 the building looks out of use and closed for public. It needs badly some restoration like many buildings in the old town of Benghazi.
The cathedral was designed by the Italian architects Guido Ottavo and Cabiati Ferrazza. It is is an example of neo-classical architecture. The entrance has a portico with six Doric columns.
The covered market area of Souq Jreed in the Old City stretches for about one km. You can easily reach the souq from the Freedom Square and walk to the Funduq Market.
I always enjoy to stroll around in souqs. It's a nice way to get a glimpse of daily live in the town, to get an overview of the local products of the country and to buy some local stuff.
The Souq of Benghazi is rather authentic, being at the service of Benghazi's own population.
At the Freedom Square or Maydan al-Huriya close to the Old Townhall you can find also the the oldest mosque of Benghazi, the Atiq Mosque. The original Atiq mosque was already founded in 1400, but rebuilt several times aftertwards.
In the World War II many buildings of Benghazi were destroyed, so you will not find an abundance of historical buildings in Benghazi. From the Atiq Mosque you can easily walk into the covered souks of Benghazi.
The old town hall of Benghazi was built by the Italians during their occupancy. From the balcony, Mussolini spoke to the crowd, Field Marshal Rommel inspected his troops and also King Idris spoke from this balcony to his citizens.
Nowadays the building is closed for the public. The buildign is neglected and some windows are broken. At the square are no crowds or troops anymore, but playing kids.
The archaeological site of the ancient Greek city of Berenice is just besides the old lighthouse. Berenice is the second Greek foundation in the area after Euhesperides. The ancient city, close to the well-protected lagoons, was ideally situated for trade by sea.
Excavations and restoration works are still going on. It's hardly to discover what you see. Our guide gave us some explanation. We saw foundations of courtyard houses from the 2nd century BC and the remains of a small temple of Asclepius and Igea. There are also some mosaics.
The old lighthouse of Benghazi is situated in the old part of the city. At first sight the massive tower of the lighthouse looks a bit like the minaret of the Great Mosque in Kairouan in Tunisia.
The lighthouse is a landmark overlooking the cemetary of Sidi Khrebish. This is the place of the ancient Greek city of Berenice. Close to the lighthouse is a office of the Department of Antiquities. There is told that there will be probably a museum one day.
Beit Medina Takafi is a beautifully restored Ottoman merchant's house, which is the centrepiece of the Medina renovation project. Stone archways and balconies surround an open courtyard with a fountain.
It has recently opened as a museum with various exhibits relating to the local history of Benghazi, including ancient pottery and period clothes. Explanations are in Arabic only.
Opening hours: 8am-10pm
Admission is free
One of the pleasant surprises of Benghazi is the archaeological site of the ancient Greek city of Berenice. It was named after the wife of Ptolemy III. There are Greek and Roman relics here as well as Byzantine mosaics.
I really enjoyed wandering around the site, but was a little frustrated that I didn't know exactly what I was looking at. Excavations and restoration work are ongoing. It is nowhere near as extensive as Cyrene, but when archaeological work is complete and explanations of what the various parts of the site once were become available, this will be a significant attraction for visitors. Admission is free.
Souq al-Hoot literally means the whale market, but it is actually the name of the fish market, which is currently being renovated. It is one of the oldest and most interesting parts of the Medina. In front of its ancient stone entance archways you may see street artists and vendors.
Garyounis University was founded on December 15th 1955 as the Libyan University. It was the first university to open in Libya. It stands on the Corniche near the Former Italian Cathedral. I attended a meeting there and had a tour of the main building. I was surprised to find an impressive Arabesque cabinet that used to belong to the Queen of Libya standing at the back of one of the classsrooms. It is currently being used as a store cupboard by the cleaning lady.