Your Libyan Roman experience starts with a tour to Sabratha, located on the Mediterranean coast about a one-hour drive west of Tripoli. In Roman times, the Tripolitania Province had three cities, Leptis Magna, Oea (now the modern Tripoli), and Sabratha. Among all the coastal sites, Sabratha stands out as the most beautiful. A World Heritage Site, Sabratha was founded by the Canaanites in the 6th century B.C. and ruled by Carthage, Phoenicia, Numedia, and then by Rome in 46 B.C.
The most spectacular site in Sabratha is the theatre, built during the reign of Emperor Commodus (161-192 A.D.) with its three-story backdrop of columns, it remains in use today as an arena for both theatre and concerts. Other monuments and areas of interest include the Temple of Liber Pater, the Basilica of Justinian, the Capitolium, the Temple of Serapis, the Temple of Hercules, and the Temple of Isis. After a day spent immersed in the history of the region, return to Tripoli in the afternoon.
We drive back to Tripoli to explore the old, whitewashed medina (old city), which is full of mosques and is the historic heart of Tripoli. Compared to the bazaars in Istanbul, Marrakech, and Cairo, the old souk here is quiet and peaceful. No one seems to be in a hurry, and we have time to explore at our leisure. We make a stop at the Gurgi Mosque and the Arch of Marcus Aurelius, which is the last structure remaining from 163 AD when Tripoli was an ancient Roman city known as Oea. The old British Consulate dates from 1744 and was first built as a home for the founder of the Karamanli Dynasty. You also enjoy a magnificent view over the medina from the rooftop of the House of Yusuf Karamanli, where you can also see how Libyan rulers lived in the early 19th Century.
After lunch, take a walk in the district built during the Italian occupation to see the characteristic architecture of the 1920s and 1930s.
Dinner in a local restaurant and overnight at Victoria hotel or similar. (B, L, D)