Tripoli Things to Do

  • rock art from the Akakus
    rock art from the Akakus
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  • Innercourts of the Red Castle
    Innercourts of the Red Castle
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  • Ghadames house
    Ghadames house
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Most Recent Things to Do in Tripoli

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    Tripoli museum

    by Luchonda Updated Nov 6, 2007

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    The famous fisherman
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    The museum in Tripoli is a must to visit, showing the treasures and history of Libya from the past till now. From Roman, Greek culture till the revolution in 1969. The tour takes at least about three hours, take a good guide and enjoy archeologic highlights, definately the best in northern Africa, maybe in the world

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    Sidi Abdul Wahab Mosque

    by iwys Updated Jun 5, 2007

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    This tiny mosque is named after the 14th century holy man, Sheikh Sidi Abdul Wahab, who is buried here. For this reason it has become a pilgrimage site and, as it stands right next to Tripoli harbour, it is the mosque where Libyans should say their final prayers before setting off for the Haj in Saudi Arabia.

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  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo

    Building on the past

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated May 12, 2007

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    Roman Columns Crossroad
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    With its whitewashed walls and numerous minarets, Tripoli's medina looks like anyone's idea of a North African city. A bird's eye view gives a clue that its origins may well be older than someone approaching through one of the huge gates in the mediaeval walls would assume. From that bird's vantage point, three straight roads can be seen slicing through the maze of smaller lanes and alleys that surround them. Once these were the main roads through the Roman city of Oea - Sharia Jama ad-Draghut follows the line of the Roman Cardo Maximus, the city's main north-south street, whilst Sharia Hara Kebir delineates the Decumanus Maximus (the main east-west side street) and Sharia Homet Gharyan a lesser decumanus.

    The symmetrical order of of the Roman cities may have lost its definition as wave after wave of invaders and change has washed through the city. The temples and forum, the agora and courthouse may be gone. houses - both grand and humble - have been built and rebuilt within the massive walls, creating densely populated neighborhoods that were easy to defend in times of trouble. Centuries of building and rebuilding have subsumed the Roman past but you don't need to be a bird to discover evidence of the city's Classical antecedants. Although only one major monument remains, there are just a few less grandiose reminders that once this was a Roman city.

    Walk down Sharia Jama ad- Draghut ( the Cardo Maximus, remember?) and where it crosses Sharia Homet Gharyan ( the southern Decumanus) you'll find a Roman pillar embedded in the buildings on each corner of the crossroad. This is Al-Arba'a Asaht - the Roman Columns Crossroad (photo1). You'll find more pillars on other buildings on other corners in the medina too (photo 3). The roof of the Nakhil Mosque - the city's oldest - is supported by similarly truncated pillars too (photo 2). Part of the Roman seaward road lies near the northern wall , there are mosaics in the museum, and that's about it - until you come to the Arch of Marcus Aurelius ....

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  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo

    Tripoli today

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated May 12, 2007

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    Milk cartons or whisky bottles?
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    Truth to tell, there's not much about modern Tripoli to get excited about. The city experienced a huge influx of people during the 70s and 80s and in the push to accommodate them buildings sprang up seemingly overnight and unchecked. Now there's a sprawling mass of apartment buildings, with satellite dishes hanging off every balcony interspered every so often by the dome of a mosque and its accompnying tall minaret. Apart from the Corinthia Hotel and a nearby tower, the Burj al Fatih, the most noticeable feature of the city's skyline is an oddly clumsy group of office blocks, looking for all the world like up-turned milk cartons, the Dhat al Imad towers (photo 1). Apart from the Corinthia, the modern architecture is uninspired.

    There are a few distinctive buildings you'll probably notice as you are driven around the city. The low domed building surrounded by jutting white points you may pass on your way to Leptis Magna is the Planetarium, showing its 70s age a bit now. The long stone fort-like building between the Corinthia and the Burgal Fatih is the old Italian Tobacco Factory (photo 2), now used as government offices. The orange domed People's Palace was once a royal residence.

    Landfill has claimed a large stretch of the sea front and now the city buildings are separated from the water's edge by concrete and cars (photo 3).

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  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo

    Behind high walls

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated May 12, 2007

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    French Consulate Street
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    Although the mosques and souqs of Tripoli's medina give the visitor a wonderful insight into the city's public life, the high walls and closed doors of the narrow streets and alleys (photo 1)were always meant to keep the world at bay from the private lives of its citizens. Most of the people living in the medina today live in pretty poor circumstances in crumbling old houses (this is not the smart end of town) but in the days when all the city lay within the walls rich and poor lived here together .. and some of them lived in considerable luxury.

    Some of these grand old houses have been restored, put to a public use of some sort and now offer access to the interested visitor. Step cross the thresholds of these one-time palaces and you will find a quietly elegant world centred around a courtyard garden where fountains once played and beautifully decorated rooms opened out onto galleried walkways.

    The old British Consulate (photo 2) is one such house. Built for one of the ruling Qaramanli family in 1744 and used by the British for over 100 years, it's now used for exhibitions and offices, but for a small fee, visitors can wander along the balconies and peer into the room where once a pasha's family lived. Dar Qaramanli (another Qaramanli house dating from the 19th century) is open as a museum.

    Other houses have been turned into restaurants, one is a craft exhibition complex (photo 3) and, opposite the Aurelian Arch, the newly-restored and refurbished Zameet Hotel (photo 4) has recently opened its doors. So far there are only a few such houses and, given the secretive way of the medina, it's not easy to guess what lies behind those blank walls you pass as you explore the medina's alleys. Some are so far gone they've lost the protection of their street walls however, and there you can see grand architectural features and faded frescoes (photo 5), the last remains of these patrician houses.

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  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo

    ...and a synagogue

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated May 12, 2007

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    Tripoli's last synagogue
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    Partially restored in 1999, the Tablets of the Law and Stars of David on its facade but locked and with its windows sealed, Tripoli's last remaining synagogue stands a mute reminder of the city's once large and prosperous Jewish community, one of the oldest in North Africa. Jews began living in Tripolitania over 2000 years ago, and by the 1930s they made up some 25-30% of the city's population, worshipping in 44 synagogues scattered around the city.

    The 1930s saw the fortunes of this ancient community begin to change forever as Mussolini introduced restrictive laws. With the arrival of the German army in 1942, Jews were evicted from their homes, many were sent to labour camps whilst others were force marched across the desert where they perished. Pogroms in the years of British occupation following the war brought more tragedy - death and the destruction of several synagogues. Changing attitudes and the establishment of the Jewish state in Israel meant all who could emigrated so that by the time Ghaddafi staged his coup no more than 500 Jews remained in the city. The confiscation of Jewish property under the revolution was the last blow and by 1974 all but a tiny handful had left. Now there are no recognized Jews living in the city, or in all Libya.

    Bab al-Jedid in the south-west corner of the medina walls once led out of the Jewish quarter to the Jewish cemetery. The habitable houses that remain in the old Jewish quarter in this part of the medina are now occupied by poor immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa and synagogues have been turned into mosques. A beautiful Jewish school dating from Ottoman times has been restored and now houses the city's archives. And the last synagogue? No-one knows what will happen to that ...

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    Red Castle

    by iwys Updated May 12, 2007

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    Red Castle, also known as Tripoli Castle or Assai al Hamra, is an imposing citadel which overlooks the waterfront of the old city. It is built on the site of a Roman fortified camp. For centuries Tripoli's rulers, including the Knights of St. John and the Otttomans, were based here. In the seventeenth cenury the castle was completely surrounded by a water-filled moat. Nowadays there is only water on one side.

    The castle covers an area of 13,000 square metres and today it houses the national museum.

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  • iwys's Profile Photo

    Souq al-Turk

    by iwys Updated May 12, 2007

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    Souq al-Turq, or the Turkish market, runs north-south throught the heart of the Medina, parallel to Souq al-Mushir. It is partially covered by overhanging strips of corrugated aluminium to offer shoppers shade from the sun. This is the most businesslike, least touristy of the souqs.

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    Ottoman Clock Tower

    by iwys Updated May 12, 2007

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    The 19th century Ottoman Clock Tower is one of the most impressive landmarks in the Medina. It is sparkling white, as it has just been repainted. It is a typical Turkish design and very similar to the Dolmabahce Clock Tower in Istanbul. Coincidentally, there is yet another similar Ottoman clock tower in the centre of Tripoli in Lebanon.

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    Old French Consulate

    by iwys Updated May 5, 2007

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    This attractive house, with a central courtyard, was originally built in 1630. It was used as the French Consulate until 1946. It has been recently restored and opened to the public. The consul's room contains period furniture and there is a so-so view of the harbour from the rooftop terrace. What makes it worth visiting is the craftsmanship in the tiles, stained glass windows, wooden doors and balustrades.

    Admission 2 LD + 2 LD for camera

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    Ahmed Pasha Karamanli Mosque

    by iwys Updated May 5, 2007

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    Ahmed Pasha Karamanli Mosque is the largest and grandest of the 38 mosques in the Medina. It was built in 1711 by the founder of the Karamanli dynasty and Governor of Tripoli. It has a twenty-five domed roof built over a sanctuary, which is decorated with very beautiful stucco work. In a separate room lie the tombs of Ahmad Pasha and his family. The mosque has an octagonal, Turkish style minaret.

    It is difficult to get a picture of the whole mosque, without using a wide-angle lens, as the building is so large and surrounded on all sides by the narrow streets of the souq.

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    Souq al-Ghizdara

    by iwys Updated May 5, 2007

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    One of the most interesting of the many small souqs in the Medina is Souq al-Ghizdara, where you can see coppersmiths at work making, amongst other things, the copper crescents that surmount the minarets of mosques. It is just one narrow street, so it only takes a minute to walk the length of the souq.

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    Old British Consulate

    by iwys Updated May 5, 2007

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    The former British Consulate, also known as Dar Adb al Khaliq al Nuwayji. was originally built in 1744 as a residence for Ahmad al Karamanli, the ruler of Tripoli. He donated it as the British Consulate, and it continued to serve that function until 1940. Since the 1990s it has housed a scientific library.

    Many of the great trans-Saharan expeditions set off from here, including that of Gordon Laing who, in 1826, embarked on a 13-month camel trek across the Sahara to become the first white man to reach Timbuktou. Just before leaving the Consulate, Laing hastily married the British Consul's beautiful daughter, Emma. She followed his slow progress across the desert by means of mail sent back via camel caravans. But, unfortunately, on the return journey from Timbuktou he was murdered before he could reach her, so their marriage was never consummated.

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    Four Roman Columns Crossroads

    by iwys Updated Apr 23, 2007

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    If the city had not continued to grow, the Roman ruins of Tripoli would possibly rival those of Leptis Magna and Sabratha. But, when the Arabs occupied the city, they dismantled most of the Roman structures and built their Medina on top of them, incorporating Roman columns and stones in the new buildings. The best example of this is the Four Roman Columns Crossroads in the centre of the Medina.

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    National Jamahiriya Museum

    by iwys Updated Apr 23, 2007

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    Tripoli's National Jamahiriya Museum houses the best collection of classical art in North Africa. There are nearly fifty galleries, covering an area of 10,000 sq metres, spread over four levels. Exhibits range from prehistoric axes to Colonel Gadaffi's VW Beetle. The main emphasis, however, is on sculptures and mosaics from the classical Roman and Greek eras. There are also scale models of Leptis Magna and Sabratha, which are interesting if you are planning to visit those places. Most of the exhibits are labelled in Arabic only though.

    Open Tues-Sun 9am-1pm, 3pm-6pm. Admission 3 LD + 5LD for camera.

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