Leptis Magna

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Leptis Magna

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Leptis Magna
Leptis Magna
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Leptis Magna (Lectis Magna)

This is one of the best preserved Roman cities that exists and one of the few you can walk through and begin to understand what life may have been like there. Originally it was a minor Phoenician trading port dating back to about 700 BC. There are some ruins visible of the old Phoenician town but it began to grow into a major city under emperor Augustus in 27 BC to AD 14 and finally its reached its heyday under Lucius Septimus Severus who was born in Leptis Magna in AD 145.

Severan Archl
Severan Arch detail

Septimus Severus "the grim African" made his way through the Roman military ranks till, in a period of instability in Rome, marched with his faithful army to take over power and became emperor. He then started developing Leptis Magna as a city to rival Rome in importance. He built a new and bigger forum and expanded the port, also the great triumphal arch was built in his honour. But Septimus Severus was a soldier at heart and he waged many battles to expand and maintain the Empire. In AD 207 he was killed in battle in England.

Leptis Magna was built on the Wadi Lebha that is now dry but during Roman times had water. Channels brought more water to Leptis that was stored in reservoirs. There were many water features adding to the attraction of Leptis Magna such as the outstanding Hadrian Baths and the fountains. The Roman theatre is still used to this day.

Sadly the great earthquake of AD 365 caused much damage to Leptis and under French occupation in the 17th Century much marble especially the great marble columns from the Forum were removed as a building material for buildings such as Versailles.


Visiting Leptis Magna

Leptis can be reached in about one and a half hours from Tripoli and guides are hired at the gates. Two hours provides a reasonable amount of time to get a feel of the city. More is better! There is also a museum worth visiting at Leptis, if this is included in your trip allow a full day for the excursion.

Leptis lies right beside the sea, access to the beach is easy and a quick swim could be pleasant on a hot day.

Severan Arch
Severan Arch

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