Libya

As an emerging sand, sun and sea destination of the future, Libya is truly blessed with archaeological marvels, spanning all periods of history, right from the Stone Age to the modern sagas of World Wars, including the least spoiled beaches in the Mediterranean world; massive sand dunes and beautiful oases; palm-fringed kaleidoscopic lakes; well preserved prehistoric archaeological sites; remains of unseen prehistoric civilisations, predating the Egyptian culture by thousands of years; spectacular Berber granaries and culture; hundreds of thousands of prehistoric cave paintings and rock engravings -- the largest collection of prehistoric art in the world; the largest desert in the world; awesome chains of mountains and valleys; Greek sites; the best preserved Roman architecture outside Italy; and the most complete Roman theater in the world. There is no other place on earth that can rival such remarkable landscape and history.

Roman Sites

The Roman city of Sabratha lies 80 km west of the capital Tripoli. The port was established as a Phoenician trading-post around 500 BC. It later became part of the short-lived Numidian Kingdom of Massinissa before being Romanised and rebuilt in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. The city was badly damaged by earthquakes during the 4th century, and was rebuilt on a more modest scale by Byzantine governors. Besides the well preserved late 3rd century theatre, that retains its three-storey architectural backdrop, Sabratha has temples dedicated to Liber Pater, Serapis and Isis. There is a Christian basilica of the time of Justinian and remnants of some of the mosaic floors that enriched elite dwellings of Roman North Africa; the Villa Sileen near Al-Khoms is a good example. The mosaics are most clearly preserved in the coloured patterns of the seaward (or Forum) baths, directly overlooking the shore, and in the black and white floors of the theatre baths. There is a museum adjacent to the site which contains some excavated artifacts, whilst others are displayed at the National Museum in Tripoli.

Leptis Magna is the largest Roman city in Libya, and its ruins are some of the most complete and best preserved in the Mediterranean. The city is arguably Libya's biggest tourist attraction. Leptis Magna was originally founded by the Phoenicians in the 10th Century BC. It survived the attention of Spartan colonists, became a Punic city and eventually part of the new Roman province of Africa around 23 BC. As a Roman city it prospered, with figures like Emperor Septimius Severus as one of its emperors. The city was sacked by a Berber tribe in 523 AD, and later abandoned and reclaimed by the desert. Although it provided a source of building materials to various looters throughout history, it was not excavated until the 1920s. Today the site has many monuments still intact. The theatre is the most obvious, and has good panoramic views of the city from its upper tiers. The Hadrianic Baths are another attraction, and one of the pools, measuring 28 times 15 metre, remains intact. This bath house was one of the largest that was ever built outside Rome. The circus, nearly a kilometre away from the main site, remains still only partly excavated. At 450 by 100 metres, it was one of the largest in the entire Roman world. It is also the only one of its kind in Libya today. The Leptis Magna Museum of Leptis Magna contains many excavated artifacts, as well as recent discoveries such as five colorful mosaics created during the 1st or 2nd century AD.

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