In Roman days Tripoli was called Oea. The new name comes from the three Roman cities of Oea, Sabratha and Leptis Magna known collectively by Romans as the Tripolis (three cities). Although already important in Roman days it fell into disrepair after the Vandals conquered this area of North Africa.
Over the following centuries it came under the rule of Byzantium, the Arabs, Normans, Spanish and the Knights of St John of Malta. The old town (medina) as it is seen now came to be in Ottoman times. When the Italians took over the town in 1911 it began to grow rapidly.
Throughout most of its history it has been the gateway to sub-Saharan Africa and an important start or end point of many trading caravan routes. The colourful old town (medina) bustles with life and blends into the modern avenues, all of which are a joy to wander through. If time allows a visit to the National Jamahiriya museum is highly recommended.
There are a variety of hotels in Tripoli ranging from very expensive five star hotels to much more basic ones. Care must be taken in choosing a hotel - lack of competition led to management apathy but the situation is changing rapidly for the better and there are now several new private hotels to choose from ranging from the 5* Corinthia to a variety of pleasant 3* hotels in and around the medina. Our preferred base is one of these, just a 10 minute walk from the museum and less to the souqs.
There are many good restaurants and snack bars near the town centre and the food is generally of a good quality. No special care need be taken over drinks or salads. The water in Tripoli comes from very pure "Great Man Made River" water.
Walking around Tripoli is safe, even at night. Women alone, if lightly clad, might attract unwanted attention; it is always best to respect the customs of the country. As a rule the atmosphere in the town is very friendly and there is almost no harassment by salesmen.