At first sight, there are few traces of this ancient and legendary place in northwest Libya but it once had three great cities, Sabratha, Leptis Magna and Oea. Tripoli, once named Oea, dates back to the 7th century B.C. when Tripoli was an important trading centre for the Carthaginians.
As much as anything else, it is the local plants, majestic palm trees and impressive cacti that give Tripoli its Mediterranean atmosphere. Clearly, the influence of the sea is only present close to the coast, as a few kilometres inland is endless desert.
An eye-catching landmark that dates back to the time of the corsairs is the Citadel in Tripoli’s harbor. The Arabs enlarged the original Byzantine complex to a fortress and for a short spell, the city fell into the hands of the Spanish.
Sabratha is the youngest of the three great cities of Tripolitania. Thanks to much restoration work, the Theatre is one of the most impressive architectural monuments of this once legendary trading city. The restored façade of the Roman stage building is one of the most beautiful to be seen anywhere. Columns of green-white Cipollino Marble with artistic capitols underline the extraordinary architectural charm of Sabratha’s ancient theatre.
Around 120 kilometres east of Tripoli is Tripolitania’s third ancient metropolis of Leptis Magna, a unique excavation site. The oldest finds in Leptis Magna were made in a Punic cemetery that had been built on by the Romans. Under the rule of Carthage, Leptis Magna became an important trading metropolis until it fell into the hands of the Numidians.
The remains of the legendary Tripolitania of antiquity continue to inspire even today and are proof of a great and golden epoch.