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Flag Source: CIA World Factbook
Once known as the “White Bride of the Mediterranean,” Tripoli is the capital of Libya and its most populous city. The Phoenicians founded it in the 7th century B.C.E. Over time, it fell into the hands of various empires, including the Greeks and Romans. From the 16th through the 19th centuries, it was in the hands of the Ottoman Empire, and for the first half of the 20th century, it was controlled by Italy and the Allied nations. It gained independence, along with the rest of Libya, in 1951.
Although Tripoli is Libya’s capital, none of the country’s ministries are located in the capital –part of Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi’s plan to have a decentralized regime.
The Top 10: What to Do in Tripoli
1. Tripoli Castle:
Also known as the Red Castle, this is the most definitive landmark of the Tripoli skyline. Much of it is now home to the Jamahiriya Museum. This castle has been home to a variety of groups, from Christian knights to Muslim pirates.
2. Jamahiriya Museum:
One of the most impressive museums in the world, and home to an astonishing range of artifacts, this museum demonstrates the true breadth of Libyan history. A good deal of support for this museum came from UNESCO, which has also found five World Heritage sites in Libya. The museum ticket can be purchased when gaining entrance to the Tripoli castle, and the hours are the same as above.
3. Green Square:
Next to the medina, the Green Square is located near the waterfront. It is dotted with palm trees, and provides a nice place to take pictures, soak in Tripoli, and rest before or after shopping.
Home to souks, shaded passageways, mosques, bathhouses, and restaurants, the medina is the center of the tourism industry in Tripoli. Despite this, it remains fairly unruined by tourists, perhaps because the country is still relatively closed to visitors.
5. Gurgi Mosque:
One of the most beautiful mosques of the medina, Gurgi mosque, shows considerable Turkish and Tunisian influences. It was completed in 1833. It is fairly small in size, and has an octagonal minaret, which is relatively rare in Tripoli.
6. Karamanli House:
While called a house, this is more like a palace. The Karamanli family ruled Libya for the 18th and 19th centuries, until the house became the consulate for Tuscany.
7. Al-Fateh University:
The largest and most prestigious university in Libya, Al-Fateh is located within Tripoli. The university has colleges of Science, Engineering, Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine, Law, Fine Arts and Media, Languages, Physical Education, and Information Technology.
8. New Tripoli:
Constantly expanding, and experiencing a large construction boom, New Tripoli is home to some fun restaurants and shops. It also allows the tourist a glimpse into the life of a modern Tripoli resident. Enjoy the historical pleasures Tripoli has to offer, but also soak in the changes that it is constantly undergoing!
9. Italian Cathedral:
Once a cathedral and now a mosque, this impressive building is in the center of modern Tripoli. It also demonstrates the constantly changing influences –many of which were imperial—over the capital and its citizens.
10. Mediterranean Sea:
Take a moment to enjoy the Mediterranean, which blesses Tripoli with much milder weather than the rest of the country. The sea is also the reason that Tripoli was once one of the most important cities of the Greek and Roman empires.
When to Go
The Libyan climate is divided between milder Mediterranean conditions and harsh desert heat. Tripoli, jutting out into the Mediterranean, experiences less extreme temperatures, although it can get very hot and humid during the summers. The winters are mild, and the thermometer never drops below freezing. Still, the city is close to the desert, and it can be hot and dry. The best time to visit Tripoli is from November to April.