Tripoli

Overview

Introduction

Occupied in ancient times by Carthaginians, Phoenicians and Romans, this capital city (pop. 2,093,000) on the Mediterranean is well worth a three-night visit. Although the atmosphere has suffered from the bland architecture thrown up during the 1970s oil boom, the jumbled streets of the old town (madina) still offer a taste of Tripoli's ancient charm and relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere.

A good place to start your tour of the old city is the excellent Jamahiriya Museum, housed in the former citadel and overlooking Green Square. Most of its exhibits have to do with the country's ancient history. Nearby is the Ahmad Pasha al-Qaramanli Mosque, a highly decorated Ottoman-era structure. You should definitely take time to walk through the souks around the nearby Al-Naqa Mosque, the oldest in the city. Visit Dar Qaramanli for a glimpse at the interior furnishings of a traditional house in the madina. A bit farther northwest are the Gurji Mosque, with its 16 domes and tall octagonal minaret, and the Ibn Zikri Funduq, an inn and marketplace for traveling merchants. Nearby is the Arch of Marcus Aurelius, one of the few remaining monuments of Roman Oea (as Tripoli was known then).

If time permits, visit the Old Jewish School (today it houses city archives), the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, the Uthman Pasha Madrasa, and the former French and British consulates. If you're interested in experiencing a bathhouse, try Hammam Dragut or Hammam al Halga. There are also several war cemeteries that date from World War II. Some excellent beaches are just outside the city. Day trips include visiting the ruins in Sabratha and Leptis Magna or a jaunt to the Jabal Nafusa area. 610 mi/1,015 km west of Benghazi.

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