Libyan Tourist Landscapes Unknown by Many
By: Yasmina Hage/ Arab America Contributing Writer
Most of Libya’s stories rarely leave the political context, forgetting that Libya is home to extraordinary wealth. But, if you are looking for information about Libya, you will find mostly political content, which is a pity because the country has many treasures to be discovered.
Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the desert to the south, Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa. In addition, it’s THE country for lovers of hiking, long walks, and starlit nights.
The Sahara occupies 90% of the country, and it’s composed of the Fezzan and the Libyan desert.
The Fezzan, a region in the southwest of the country, offers a journey between seas of dunes, rock carvings of the prehistoric era, and oases. Moreover, it’s bordered by the Akakus and Tadrat mountains.
Hiking in the Akakus desert is a unique experience to explore the desert and camping in search of rock paintings in sublime landscapes.
The White Desert
The Libyan desert is adjacent to Egypt and it’s known as the white desert as a result of its carbonate soil. It’s shaped by arid expanses, with rocky, sandy, and sometimes volcanic soil that extends to the Mediterranean, which differentiates them from the other Maghreb countries.
The Tassili N’ajjer
The Tassili N’ajjer is a renowned Algerian relief that is also present in Libya. It’s a large sandstone plateau on which one will see the relief of the Hoggar, an Algerian mountain of volcanic rocks.
The desert and the softer plains, the company of the men of the desert like the Berbers or the Tuaregs, their spicy food and their tea, and the time that passes differently will make your stay very authentic.
The country conceals other vestiges dating back to the Hellenic and Roman periods. We can find, for example, the biggest Roman theater on the continent.
The Ancient Cities on The Mediterranean Coast
Around seventy kilometers west of the Libyan capital of Tripoli are the remnants of an ancient city that has been in ruins since ancient times. These ruins represent the largest Roman theater in the world. Sabratha was one of the last large trading cities of the former Tripolitania. A re-constructed theatre that could accommodate an audience of five thousand is the ancient city’s most impressive building and dates back to the second century BC. Sabratha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After visiting these historical ruins, you can then relax on the sandy beaches, which are right next to the site.
The Greco-Roman site of Leptis Magna can be found along the Libyan coast, 120 km east of Tripoli. It was built in the year 600 BC, founded by the Phoenicians who gained importance under Carthage’s dominion before becoming Roman. The site is like Sabratha, is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. A visit to the amphitheater, the basilica, the forum, Hadrian’s baths, the museum, and the hunting baths with their almost intact murals gives a glimpse of the greatness of this city.
Shabbat, or ancient Cyrene, capital of Cyrenaica and a great center of hedonistic philosophy, was destroyed in 364 AD by an earthquake. There you will see many ruins, including Roman baths, the sanctuary of Apollo, the Greek Theater, the Temple of Zeus, tombs carved into the rock, mosaics of ancient churches, and more. This city, which sheltered nearly 100,000 inhabitants and was connected to the port of Apollonia, holds amazing remains that one can visit and explore.
The Museum As-Saraya al-Hamra
The Museum As-Saraya al-Hamra (Red Castle) of Tripoli is a museum where one finds the pieces and the objects of archaeology collected on the country’s ancient sites. You can find treasures from the great Greek, Roman, and Byzantine cities, as well as collections of handicrafts from different Libyan tribes. There is even a part dedicated to the modern history of the country. It is a place not to be missed for the treasures it contains.
The Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography of Germa
The Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography of Germa is a museum dedicated to prehistoric rock art found in the Fezzan region. You will find a panorama of ancient and recent excavations carried out by Italian and Libyan archaeologists. You will also find a collection of Arab and Berber objects that highlight the genius work of the men from Fezzan, as they adapted to work in this hostile region.
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