Adventures at Matheran Hill Station
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Matheran is a Hill Station located near Mumbai, Karjat.   It is located 800 meters above sea level in the Jambol Forest of Maharashtra.  It was found by Hugh Poynts Malet in May 1850.  It spreads over an area of 8 square kilometers in Sahyadri Mountains.  It is one of the best places to spend a two-day holiday if you are in Mumbai or in the vicinity of Mumbai or its suburbs.  To reach Matheran,  [...]

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Reminiscing Tripolitania In Tripoli

Posted on November 19, 2009 | Fascinating CitiesNo Comment

Tripoli has a charm of its own. There are a number of tourist destinations in and around the city, especially if you are a history and archaeology enthusiast.

Inherent in the city’s heritage and architecture are the influences of the Hellenic, the Byzantine, the ottoman, the Crusaders and lastly the Muslim culture, consequently making Tripoli a tourist attraction in North Africa that you must visit.

Here are some of the sites worth visiting in Tripoli.

1. Places of worship in Tripoli

A number of religious places of worship and mosques work as embellishments in an otherwise busy city. The mosques and churches around are worth a visit, if not for any religious reasons, then their architecture.

  • The Church of St. John of the Pilgrims Mount
    At about 200 meters away, to the south of the Castle on Abu Samra Hill, significant remains of this church were found in the Maronite Cemetery of Saint John. The church has two joined chapels.
  • The Great Mosque
    Among some of the good mosques of the city is the Great Mosque or the officially Jami Al Mansuri Al Kabir, built in the year 1315 on the historical site of the Cathedral of St Mary.  Porticos surround the mosques courtyard and there is also a domed shaped vaulted prayer hall. The walls of the mosques have informative inscriptions about the mosque and the Mamluke period.  The Great Mosques is one of the oldest monuments in Tripoli, erected by the sons of Al Mansur Qala’un.  This monument gives a glimpse of the western and Muslim architecture.
  • Taynal Mosque
    Dating back to 1336, the Taynal mosque was built by Saif Ed Dine Taynal on the site of Crusader Carmelite Church. The founder’s mausoleum too is here. The architecture of the mosque reflects the Mamluke style of architecture and the ruins of the church too were used in its construction. Other mosques worth a visit in Tripoli are the Al –Maullaq mosque built in the 16th century and the Gurgi mosque, with an elegant mix of Turkish, Italian and Moroccan style of architecture, built by Tusuf Gurgi in 1833.

Gurgi mosque

2. The Qasr Naous

Located on a high plateau overlooking the Koura district is Qasr Naous, a popular site which has two temples facing each other. They are the ruins of temples that existed here. The site also has a damaged bust of the Roman sun God, Helios.

3. The Citadel

Also known as Qal’at Sinji, the Citadel of Tripoli, is a major tourist attraction, thanks to its architecture which includes an octagonal Fatimid construction converted to a Crusader Church, Mamluke styles used in the 24th century and the 16th century Ottoman influence.  It has undergone renovation a number of times.

4. Madarsas

Madarsas or the learning centers of Islam, of Tripoli are also known for their architectural styles.

  • Madrassah Al- Nouriyah
    Right in front of Grand Mosque is the Madrassah Al- Nouriyah that was built in 1331 by the then Governor Nu red-Din. It stands as a historical as well as an architectural marvel in the city of Tripoli. The black and whiteAl Qartawiyat stone portal and further deep inside, a round marble around a circle with eleven thunderbolts emanating from it, add brilliance to this monument.
  • Al- Qartawiyat Madrassah
    Another important madarsa of Tripoli is the Al- Qartawiyat Madrassah with fine décor on ceilings, built in the first quarter of the 14th century A.D.
5. Al Mina Port

Al- Mina Port is a major attraction of Tripoli. Tripoli has two towns – the ancient city and the modern harbour area of Al Mina.  The Al Mina Port is about 3 kilometers away from the city of Al Mina and is a prominent trade center of the country.

Clock Tower6. Clock Tower

In the heart of the city at Al-Tell Square is the landmark of the city, the Clock Tower. It makes for postcard pictures and is used to promote tourism in Tripoli through travel brochures. Today, the Clock tower is also a major point of the city where you can hire taxis to travel in Tripoli and other parts of the country as well.

Adjacent to the Clock Tower is the Al Mashieh Park, perhaps the oldest park of the city. There is another small garden behind the Clock Tower. A number of restaurants with local and international cuisine line up the area surrounding the Clock Tower.

7. Khan al Khayyatin shop

The Khan Al Khayyatin or the Tailors’ Khan is the oldest commercial center of this Libyan city, dating back to the first half of the 14th century. At the entrance and at other places, there are Roman granite columns built into the walls. The roofs are pierced to allow natural light to fall in. It still has steel stalls and storehouses for dry goods merchants and the tailor of modern Tripoli in its 60 yards long passageway with tall graceful arches on each side.

8. Souqs

The old souqs or the Arabic markets of the city of Tripoli are major attractions for tourists. The nine souqs of the city with stalls for spices, to food to handicrafts etc, are connected with each other through a number of alleys and lanes.

9. Jamahiriya Museum

The Jamahiriya Museum is the largest museum in Libya. Collections here include the artefacts from the Neolithic Jamahiriya Museumperiod to the present times. Reproductions of Saharan rock art from the Acacus Mountains, Roman sculptures and mosaics from Leptis Magna are things you must look at on your visit to the museum.

10. As- Sarraya al-Hamra

The As- Sarraya al-Hamra, or the Red Castle, at Green Square in Tripoli dates back to the 16th century. This official residence of the Turkish governors was built by Spaniards and the Knights of St John of Malta on the sites of a Roman fortified camp or castrum. This is where Jamahiriya Museum is situated along with some offices. There are obscure network of alleys and courtyards within the Red Castle for you to stroll in.

11. Medina

Though the Medina of Tripoli is not as enchanting as those of Moroccan cities, they are still worth a pleasant walk. You can enter the place from the Green Square, reach the Ottoman Clock Tower and then you will find a number of souks further ahead. The Sharia Jamma ad-Draghut and the mosque of Draghut and the Roman Arch of Marcus Aurelius are some of the sites you can visit on your way to the Medina from the Green Square.

The Arch of Marcus Aurelius erected in AD 163 is the only structure in Tripoli that stands as a reminder of Roman Oea. The arch has been excavated to the ground level and most of Oea is buried under the Medina. On the gateway are the deities of Apollo and Minerva with some carved blocks from a nearby Roman Temple, by the side of the gateway.
There is also the Dar Yusuf al-Karamanli, a popular tourist site in the Medina. It is a Turkish styled medina house around a central courtyard with displays of traditional dresses, furniture, musical instruments and other household items. It gives a chance to peak into the life style of wealthy people living here about 200 years ago.

In proximity to the Arch of Marcus Aurekius is The Old French Consulates, a restored 17th century building with a central courtyard. On Sharia Hara Kebir is the Old British Consulate, an 18th century building, right behind the Gurgi Mosque. From the roof of this consulate, you can view Tripoli, from the Medina to the modern harbour.

12. Excursions to Leptis Magna and Sabratha

Tripoli or Tarabulus as the city is known in Arabic was once a part of Tripolitania – the province of three cities –the other two being Sabratha and Leptis Magna. Not far from the city of Tripoli, they are worth making an excursion to.

  • Leptis Magna
    At about 120 kilometers away to the east of Tripoli are the ruins of Leptis Magna, a Phoenician trading post found circa 1000 BC. It served as the capital of the Roman colony of Tripolitania.  Among the many monuments of this area, most of which were built by the Roman emperor Septimius Severus, is the Leptis museum with marble statues and mosaics from the Severan period.

leptis magna tripoli

  • Sabratha
    Another Phoenician trading post on the Mediterranean, this was Tripolitania’s third city. The ruins of Sabratha are at a distance of about 80 kilometers west of Tripoli and attract the tourists for the several bathhouses, large Roman Villas with mosaic floors and a theatre reconstructed by Italians in the 1920s now used for concerts and performances.
Touring the city

There are plenty of tour operators that arrange for a guided city tour and also your trip to Leptis Magna or Sabratha and even further to Cyrenaica and the Sahara desert.

With sites of historical significance, monuments, markets and other attractions, it could be hectic to see everything that the Capital City of Tripoli offers, just in one day. A leisure walk, reminiscing the past of Tripoli, is what this city truly deserves.

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