Sunday, January 10, 2010

Andrew Ford Medina

After months of living here in Libya, Cay and I were finally able to visit the Medina of Tripoli. I considered it an important thing to be able to visit the place, referred to as "the Ottoman heart of Libya's cosmopolitan capital." We should have done it sooner if not for laziness. But I digress.

On a chilly morning last week, we walked around the old city to explore remnants showing the rich history of the capital. The Medina reminded me of Intramuros, were the remains of a city within a wall told of centuries of Philippine history, before and after the Spaniards came to our archipelago.

The Medina contained a plethora of things that clearly remind you that Libya was once under Roman, Ottoman, and Italian rule. From the Roman pillars to the old mosques to the Italian-style streets, the richness of the city's history hits you hard in the face.

My favorite part of the Medina, and what could be argued is the most important one, is the Arch of Marcus Aurelius. This may probably be the most symbolic construction in Libya. Think Statue of Liberty for New York, Eiffel Tower for Paris, and Big Ben for London.

According to Dr. Lonely Planet (Prof. Wikipedia not being available), the Arch of Marcus Aurelius is the last remnant of the ancient Roman city of Oea and was completed on AD 163-164. The Arch stood at the crossroads of the two great Roman roads of the city- the cardo maximus and the decumanus. It stood at the city's most important junction as well as providing an entrance to the city from the harbor.

For a nice experience, tourists may actually have a meal right next to the Arch.

Here are some more pics of the Medina of Tripoli.

The streets of the old city are very narrow, but the architecture is really a joy to watch while exploring the place.

We were able to find an Anglican church in the middle of the Medina.

We also saw streets that looked like they were transplanted from Italy.

Here's a picture of the sign that was found by the entrance of the old British Consulate, proclaiming that from this place, the colonial expeditions of England in Africa began.

We were also able to visit the Green Square, an area often used for pro-government mass rallies.

Another nice place to walk around in is the area around the Jamahiriya Museum and the Tripoli Castle.

And how did we end our trip in the Medina? By having a buffet lunch at the Corinthia Bab Africa Hotel, Tripoli's premier hotel.

Here's hoping we get to visit more Roman ruins in Libya next. And soon.

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