Closed to most outsiders for decades, Tripoli is beginning to reveal its secrets to visitors once again. From central Green Square, stroll streets of colonnaded, Italian-built edifices. Head in the other direction into the atmospheric Medina walled old city, much of which dates from the 16th century. Watch old men playing backgammon and drink a glass of lousa almond milk in an atmospheric Medina cafe.
Tripoli lies on the Mediterranean Sea in the far west of Libya, near the Tunisian border. The city was under Italian control between 1911 and the Second World War, and Italian architecture is still in evidence in the modern city. 1 September Street has many boutiques selling jewellery and clothes. More fascinating, though, are the lanes, souk markets and monuments of the predominantly Ottoman, centuries-old Medina old town. The two parts of the city are linked by palm-flanked Al Saaha Alkhadhraa (Green Square).
Explore Tripoli's walled old town, dominated by the Assaraya al-Hamra (Red Castle). In the castle, see the Janahiriya Museum's impressive collection. Admire the attractive Gurgi Mosque's floral decorations and octagonal minaret. The Santa Maria degli Angeli Church, rebuilt in 1891 in stone imported from Malta, is also worth a visit. See the second-century Roman Arch of Marcus Aurelius in its own square on the edge of the Medina. People-watch as you sit at a cafe on Green Square sipping mint tea and nibbling peanuts. Take a trip out to Leptis Magna, one of the most impressive and best-preserved Roman cities.
Admire the colonnaded galleries around the courtyard of Dar Karamanli (Karamanli House), family home of the former ruling Karamanli dynasty. It later became the Italian consulate. The architecture of the Old French and Old British Consulates is equally impressive. Try typical Libyan dishes like bazin barley dumpling served with hot sauce, or sherba spicy soup. Pay your respects to over 1400 allied soldiers who fell in the Second World War at the Commonwealth War Cemetery. Across the desert is the Phoenician and later Roman UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site of Sabratha.
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