Ptolemais

Travel to Ptolemais – One of the Ancient Capitals of Cyrenaica

The ancient city of Ptolemais is probably the only well-preserved Roman capital of a province in the world and here you’ll find a necropolis, ancient city walls, mausoleums and theatres.

Ptolemais, or Ptolemaida, was one of the ancient capitals of Cyrenaica, said to be named after Ptolemy III Euergetes. The town was founded around the 7th century BC by settlers from Barka and soon became one of the founding city-states of the Pentapolis federation. However, the union was dissolved after all of its towns surrendered to Alexander the Great In 331 BC,however, it became a part of the Ptolemaic empire after his death.

In early 1st century, the region was conquered by Rome and became a separate province. In 365, the region was destroyed by an earthquake except Ptolemais which remained in quite good condition. It served the role of a capital of Cyrenaica until 428, when it was destroyed by the vandals. During the reign of Justinian I, the city was rebuilt but it never regained its powers and was again destroyed by the Arabs in the 7th century.

Visitors to Ptolemais can enjoy visiting the ancient town’s ruins, the conspicuous and tower-like Hellenistic mausoleum and the Greek theatre which is cut into the hillside behind the city. Also in this 2.5 square kilometre town you are able to see the ancient city’s walls and a large necropolis which surrounds the city.

The only activity here is to simply explore the fascinating ancient ruins which are surrounded by a large necropolis.

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