- Location: About 75 miles East of Tripoli in Libya
- Attraction Type: Historic city
- Significance: Among the best-preserved ancient Roman cities in North Africa; a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Best Time to Visit: Throughout the year
- How to reach: By road from Tripoli
- Nearest International Airport: Tripoli International Airport
Leptis Magna is perhaps the best preserved of all ancient Roman cities in Africa. Whatever you could imagine of an imperious Roman city, can be found in the remains of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Be it the Roman baths, circus, theater, market place, or victory arch, each one of these is found in this fabulous location near Tripoli in Northern Africa. If you need to visit one place where you could witness the power and prosperity of the ancient Roman Empire outside Rome, then Leptis Magna in Libya is the redoubtable destination.
Originally settled by Phoenicians in the 6th century BC, Leptis Magna developed into a Roman metropolis and Mediterranean port during the rule of Septimus Severus from 193 to 211 AD. After the death of his descendant Alexander Severus in 235 AD, Leptis Magna, as a city, lost its pomp and grandeur. However, there were brief periods of glory during the reigns of Diocletian from 284 to 305 AD, and Constantine between 306 and 377 AD. Not long after, in 5th century AD, Tripolitania was conquered by the Vandals and later by the Arabs in 7th century AD.
Leptis Magna activities
On your visit to Leptis Magna explore the remains of the Hadrianic Baths, the Severan Basilica, the Theater, the Circus, the Colonnaded Street, the Palaestra Sports Ground, the Severan Forum, the Nymphaeum, the Arch of Trajan, the Temple of Rome and Augustus, the Temple of Liber Pater, the Arch of Tiberius, the Market, and the Harbor.
Discover the amphitheater’s excavated shell and the forum, which formed the center of Leptis Magna. Spread of the city along the coast towards the west and inland towards the south is noticeable. The baths that you would see were constructed by Hadrian in 2nd century AD. Most of the structures in this port city were constructed during Emperor Severus’ rule. A colonnaded street of about 1300 feet linked the city center to the harbor. At the end of the street, you would discover an ornately designed fountain house or ‘nymphaeum’. The two main roads of Leptis Magna intersect under a four-way arch or ‘tetra pylon’. On the walls of this arch, look out for the amazing frieze Severus and his family. Of special attraction is the Hunting Baths, famous for its well-conserved colored paintings of a hunting expedition with the names of hunters inscribed.
As you walk westwards along the colonnaded street, the remains of basilica would surprise you. With a length of 525 feet and a width of 225 feet, these three-aisled colonnaded halls had an apse at either end. Along the apses, Hercules’ Twelve Labors and Life of Dionysus are depicted on intricately sculpted pilasters.
Leptis Magna tour
Leptis Magna is best toured from Tripoli, the capital city of Libya. Al-Kabir Hotel, Corinthia Bab Africa, Bab Al Bahr Tripoli, and Sara Modern Guest House are some of the popular places to put up. Corniche, Restaurant Damon, Al Amina, and Rafaat Hallab & Sons are the famous eateries frequented both by tourists and local inhabitants alike.