Without a doubt, the great Roman city of Leptis Magna - once the greatest Roman city in all North Africa - is a must-see on every visitor to Tripoli's list. Abandonment rather than successive rebuilding on the same site has left the city in a wonderfully intact state and the excellent and sensitive work done by way of restoration makes the city an absolute joy to visit. From the moment you walk down the steps towards the magnificent triumphal arch of Septimus Severan, the "Grim African" emperor who was born here, you cannot help but be caught up in the magic of this place. Nothing about it lets you down. Even on the busiest day (and a busy day in Leptis is probably something akin to the quietest day for decades in most major European sites unless there's a cruise ship in port) the city is big enough absorb all its visitors and leave plenty of quiet spots for you to imagine yourself back into the world of this beautiful place.
The great set pieces of any Roman city are there - the baths (Hadrianic), the Forums (the "new" Severan and the "old), the basilica ( Justinian's conversion of the Temple of Dionysius), Nymphaeum, Cardo Maximus, the Senate, theatre (photo 1) and market (photo 2) , temples and arches, splendid carvings (photo 3) and the information a guide will give you about each and everyone of them will be exhaustive (and exhausting) but the real joy of Leptis is to walk the streets alone and think yourself back in time to when this was a thriving, bustling, and important, city.
Be sure to visit the massive amphitheatre (photo 4) and imagine the roar from 15000 throats as gladiators and wild beasts clashed here. Make your way too down to the intimate Hunting Baths, it wil almost certainly be closed but you can squirm your way up to a window and look down into the room below to see the vivid fresco of a leopard hunt that gave the baths their name.
It was Eid al Kabir the first time I visited Qasr al Haj and, unfortunately, the qasr was locked so I had to be content with a walk around the outside, peering through the great palm trunk doorway. It was enough to see what a fantastic place this is, and to make me want to come back if and when I returned to Libya. Lying about 160km from Tripoli, at the base of the Jebel Nafusa, this is the closest of Libya's great fortified Berber granaries to the city and the only one that can feasibly visited in a day trip out of town
Built in the 12th century as a sort of community "bank" that offered safe storage for the village people's major assets - their valuable crops of wheat, barley and olive oil , it is the only qasr (photo 1) still in constant use. Its stone and clay construction, the massive and impregnable outer walls broken only by a few tiny "windows " and a single door, kept the stored goods cool and dry as well as safe. A portion of the crop was taken both to sell, to pay for the upkeep of the qasr and the nearby mosque, and to distribute among the poor. The old town is deserted now and the people of Qasr al Haj have move to a new town up the road but the qasr, surrounded by a well-tended garden, is in kept in excellent repair.
There are 114 storerooms in the qasr, arranged in 4 tiers. Up to 5 metres deep, the rooms are divided into sections and sealed by a split palm trunk-door (photo 4) - though not all have their doors these days. A narrow staircase (photo 2) gives access to a walkway around the top layer of storerooms - and a wonderful birds'eye view (photo 3) of the huge circular courtyard and the jebel beyond (photo 5).
Shabby and faded as much of it is, Tripoli's medina is still a great place to wander. With its mixture of Roman remains; Ottoman souqs, mosques and minarets; Arabic and Italianate houses graced by crumbling balconies and ornate doorways; busy streets and quiet alleys - there's much to catch the eye and tempt the shutter finger here. Wartime damage and years of neglect have left large parts in serious decline but recent years have seen an upsurge in restoration. Grand old buildings are being carefully rehabilitated and turned to new uses. There's an ongoing and really noticeable attack on the rubbish that not so long ago threatened to swamp the place, offending both the eye and nose of Western visitors.
It's not only the buildings that make this part of the city such an attractive place to visit. The people of the medina add to the scene - men in traditional toga-like Berber blankets or elegant grey Arab cloaks; giggly little children wanting you to take their photo; a wave from a friendly face above you; African tailors at their machines in the doorways of their small shops; a welcoming smile from a girl in a library; the courtesy of the elderly custodian of a mosque...
No, it's not beautiful, but it has a faded charm, and and, yes, there's poverty here , but there are no beggars and you can walk anywhere, not be hassled and not feel uncomfortable. In three visits to Tripoli, I've spent many hours here with MrL, and on my own. Unlike the medinas of Tunis and Morocco or Algiers Kasbah, Tripoli's medina may not be on a UNESCO World Heritage List but it seems to be beginning to revive itself slowly. Tourism seems set to expand rapidly in Libya and the medina will undoubtedly have a role to play as a major attraction but it has survived as the heart of the city for 2000 years or more, somehow I think it will survive this latest invasion.
When you are in Libya You have to visit the desert ,It is a very special experience.
Of courseyou have to deal with a tour group or specialists. But please do not try to go alone to the desert.
Visit Archeological sites such as ( Libdeh) , (the old city of Ghadames) , (the old city in Tripoli) ,And other , Will be great fun and give you an overview of the cultural and historical diversity by the history .
The Gurgi Mosque was built in 1833 by Yussef aka Mustapha Gurgi , a sea captain who originally came from Georgia. You can see his tomb, through a window, in an antechamber to the right of the minbar. Nine columns support a roof made up of sixteen small domes. The mosque's minaret, which is the tallest of all Tripoli's mosques, is octagonal in shape and has two balconies.
This was the last of Tripoli's mosques built in the Ottoman period and it has the most lavishly decorated interior of any of the Medina's 38 mosques, with marble columns imported from Italy, ceramic tiles from Tunisia and stone carvings from Morocco.
The Jamahiriya Museum or National Museum gives a great chronical overview of Libya's rich history of art and culture. You can see replicas of the rock art (picture 2) from prehistoric times which you can find in the deep south of the Akakus desert. There are galleries with Libyan heritage from the Garamantes empire.
In other galleries you can find the heritage of Phoenician, Greek, Roman (picture 4) and Islamic civilisations, showing the several invasions during the centuries.
There is also an ethnographic part. Here you can see houses of the desert town Ghadames (picture 3) and exhibitions of Tuareg and Berber lifestyle (picture 5).
I enjoyed to see the huge overview of history at the museum at the end of my trip. After I visited the Akakus and Ghadames during a earlier trip. And several Roman and Greek historical sites before I came back to Tripoli for the museum.
It´s allowed to take pictures, if you buy an extra ticket for the camera.
The Red Castle, Tripoli Castle or 'Al Saraya al- Hamra' is a landmark at the corner of the medina. It's a place with a long history. The castle was built at the site of the Roman Castrum, the Roman fortified camp.
The first fort was built in the 7th century. In the 16th century the new fortifications were added. During the centuries the fort has evolved into a citadel with a labyrinth of courtyards, alleyways and houses, surrounded by high defensive walls.
Till the 20th century the castle was the seat of power in the area Tripolitania. The total area is more than 10.000 square meters. Nowadays it is part of the National Museum.
Souq al-Mushir is the first souq you will come to as you enter the Medina from Green Square. It runs northwards along the Medina's main throroughfare, parallel to Souq al-Turk. Halfway along it, you will see Maidan Essa and the Ottoman Clock Tower. There is an open air cafe here, which is a good place to take break.
The souq gets very, very busy, so you will probably find yourself taking one of the sidestreets to escape the crowds. The first sidestreet on the left leads into Souq al-Attara.
If you think the National Library looks like a palace, you are not far wrong because that's exactly what it used to be. Built in the 1930s, it was the Royal Palace of the last King of Libya, King Idris, until after the revolution when it became the People's Palace.
It's a big, spectacular building.
Dar Karamanli was the house of Yusuf Karamanli, the Ottoman Pasha of Tripoli from 1795 to 1832, who has the unusual honour in the history books of being the first ruler of any state to declare war on the United States.
Yusuf was part of the Karamanli dynasty which ruled Tripoli for more than a century. They took their name from their original hometown of Karaman in Turkey.
The 200-year-old house features colonnades and balconies around an open courtyard with a central fountain. It has been restored and now houses the Tripoli Historical Exhibition, featuring rooms with traditional furnishings and costumes.
It is open Tues-Sun, 9am-1.30pm. Admission 2LD.
Libyas National Museum or The Jamahiriya Museum is a fine modern facility located in the
Red Castle. It is housed with treasures from the World Heritage sites at Leptis Magna and Sabratha, artefacts from the countrys Roman and Greek periods and not to forget : the "Volkswagen Beetle car" driven by Gadaffi in the 60s.
There are a number of fascinating mosques both in the old town and adjacent to it, including the Karamanli Mosque, the En-Naqah Mosque and the Gurgi Mosque . We visited the best known of the Tripoli mosques, namely the Gurgi Mosque with its elegant architecture. (More turkish architecture inspired) The Gurgi mosque, with it's intricate decorations and tilework, is an example of the artistic skills of local craftsmen. Just outside the Gurgi mosque is the Arch of Marcus Aurelius, the only surviving Roman monument in the city
Picture 3 : St Mary's was built as a Catholic cathedral in 1928 by the Italians and a religious place/solution for non arabics, practicing their believes
One MUST-DO in Tripoli is a visit to the Turkish Baths. There are 2 in the medina and several others in the rest of the city (try the modern hammam near Jama'a Sagha). A more traditional hammam is the Hammam Dorghut or Hammam iz-Zghrir within the medina.
Baths are open for either men OR women, depending on the time of day: generally women in the morning and men in the evening, but check out the times.
Take your own shorts / swimming trunks and towel .... and leave the rest to the tayyab or bath man.
Roman Emperor and Stoic, the author of Meditations in twelve books.
His Arch in Northern Africa was built in 163 AD in the Greek style this arch straddles the decumanus maximus and the cardo-maximus ( means mainstreets) in the ancient Roman city of Oea which is now Tripoli. Besides Roman columns re-used in newer buildings in the medina, this is the only existing Roman monument in the city.
Located : near the harbour - former french ambassy and the unique Medina
The goddess Diana was very highly worshipped in ancient Rome. Her greek counterpart, fell under the name Artemis. Diana in Roman worship, was known as well as a maiden huntress, protector of all that is wild and free. She is also welknown as the goddess of Fertility and landmark of the site in Ephesus/Turkey