The most spectacular site in Sabratha is the Theater, without doubt. Builded during the reign of the Emperor Commodus (161-192 AD). It is a three-storey wall of columns making it possible to reflect the sound perfectly, without using high tec techniques. Make shure you will be at this Roman ancient spot when the light is still perfect for shooting pictures.
Me personal opinion : more impressive than the one in Lepcis
Other interesting places
- The Roman baths with some unique mosaics
- The Mausoleum B
- The Temple of Serapis at the western end of Sabratha,
Minor interesting place
- The Sabratha museum
The pulpitum, or stagefront of Sabratha's theater. When i visited this magnificent place there was a local guide speaking to his audium of Italian tourists, without a microphone and sofisticated high tec speakers. The sound and clearance were just perfect.
BTW : grace to the wall of the theater behind the pulpitum, reflecting the sound. But oké, this is a technique used 1000 of years ago- still perfect.
Another interesting place to be visited - the Roman Bath, next to the famous Theater.
The floors decorated by old geometric patterns.
General remark : it is still a Libyan unconcern to protect their archeological sites.
The mosaics are not protected, you can walk on ancient floors.
The Temple of Serapis – an Egyptian God of the underworld, who was a miracle worker and healer. The cult of Serapis arose at Mamphis, and became established at Alexandria.
Although the exact date of construction is unknown, this is believed to be the oldest temple in the city.
The Temple of Hercules – behind which is the large cistern used for water storage for the Theatre Baths.
The temple was identified by a fragment of a copy of a seated Hercules by Lysippos. The temple was completed in year 186. The raised porticoes that ran along the sides of the courtyard were paved in white marble, while the lower walls were coverd in red breccia and the upper walls were stuccoed and most probably painted.
The temple is believed to have been built around the year 160, but despite its size, there is no clue to its possible dedication. The temple was excavated in the 1940s by Giacomo Caputo.
There is a rectangular courtyard with a portico paved in marble at the front and each side. At the back is the temple, on a high platform, with wide marble steps. The only other remaining objects here are the capitals and pediment fragments although it has a mostly intact marble floor. .
This fountain is dedicated to Flavius JuliusConstantius (317-361 CE) who was the second son of Constatine I the Great.
He was responsible for water in Sabratha by commissioning the construction of an aqueduct.
The fountain is located just outside the Antonine Temple.
Near the theatre (you can the theatre in the background), you can find the Peristyle (or colonnaded courtyard) House. The villa is thought to be from the 2nd century, and provides the best reconstructed example in Sabratha of a cryptoporticus or sunken corridor. It is believed that its occupants would spend the summer months living in the subterranean rooms to escape the oppressive heat.
The 43m long stage is outstanding with the three large concave niches in the front. The central panel depicts Rome and Sabratha, military figures and scenes of sacrifice. Other panels show the Three Graces and the Judgment of Paris, the Nine Muses, dancing deities and various comedy scenes.
Theatre - the most spectacular site within Sabratha,the imposing theatre was built in the first century AD from pink limestone with three storeys of 108 spectacular fluted columns and doors used by the performers. The columns contain exquisite carvings along the top. The Theatre would have been able to seat around 5000 spectators, with a special seating area reserved for VIPs by the balustrades at either end of the orchestra. The area underneath the seats was lined with shops and was known as the promenade.
Unfortunately the Theatre was badly damaged during the AD365 earthquake. It is said by many to be the best Roman-built theatre in Africa, and was certainly at one time the largest. It is still being used today for entertainment events (seating 1500 spectators), having been rebuilt by Italian architects in the 1920s.
.........From the Calidarium, bathers would continue to the Tepidarium, or wamr baths. From here the journey would be via the Frigidarium - cold baths - to the outdoor bathing pools. Generally there would be a charge for using the bathing facilities.
The statue is front of the tepidarium shows a headless Venus.
Roman bathing would generally follow a strict ritual. Bathers would start by going to the back of the building to the Calidarium, or hot baths. Here they would use oil and clay for cleansing and an aid to improve the complexion......
These public Baths – located near the coast, hence the naem - are considered to be some of the most extensive in all of North Africa. At the time they would double up as a meeting place. The baths are paved in marble and contain some beautiful mosaics.
Still within the Basilica of Justinian, I came across this low pillar which had so obviously been used very recently for a sacrifice. I was assured by the guide that human sacrifice was no longer practiced, but then I was not overly worried anyway, as I feel sure we had no virgins in our group.
The Basilica of Justinian – during the Byzantine period, this was the greatest churches in Sabratha. It is also the most important from an archaeological point of view. The exquisite mosaics from its nave and aisles are now in the safety of the Roman Museum. The Basilica was built in the 6th century AD using materials from other parts of the city.
The church has a narthex with six columns, three naves, a raised prestbytery, a pulpit and an altar. The apse is missing.