Tripoli, the Capital of Libya

Marcus Aurelius Arch from 165 A.D

Tripoli, also called Tarabulus in Arabic is the capital and largest city in Libya. The city was founded by the Phoenicians in year 700BC and because of its long history there are many sites of Archeological significance like the Roman gates that you will find next to popular cafés in the city center.

After the Romans came the Ottomans, then came the French and finally came Ghadaffi- all of which have left their marks on the city.

The streets in the old town, Medina are narrow and going there as a foreigner you will get looks from everyone you pass. A part of the old town is called Sook Al-Musheer where armed militias were in control. It was crazy to see people walking with wheelbarrows full of money. I did not dare taking a picture and noone dares taking the money as everyone involved in the currency black market are armed to their teeth. We sat down at one of the caffees and watched people deal thousands of dollars right in the open, a crazy but safe experience that you would not find elsewhere.

Generally speaking, Tripoli felt very safe and we visited many cafés and restaurants which were just like the ones at home. We were walking for hours through the areas with Italian colonial architecture, through old streets from the Ottoman times to the corniche and modern style downtown, mainly built during the 32 years of rulig by the dictator Muhammar Gaddafi. Alcohol is forbidden, but the restaurants served food similar to the Algerian and coffee and shisha which people enjoyed even throughout the night.

One of the most touching experiences was to visit the Tripoli war cemetary right next to the Talata Shopping Center which was completely destroyed during the fightings of the 2011 revolution. A guarded cemetary for WWII veterans was an oasis of calm, whereas the buildings and graves outside the walls had been completely destroyed. You could see that people had been living inside the old tombs and graves of Italian soldiers had been dug up and smashed, probably in search of valuables. The grave robbers had only taken the valuable parts of the watches and left hundreds of their golden wristbands around the graves. It was simply sad to see how these dead people had been disrespected and I hope stability in the country can bring investors who can clean up this mess and create new structures on top of these war wounds.

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