Travel to Leptis Magna – Best Roman Ruins on the Mediterranean
Leptis Magna, or Lectis Magna, is an ancient city along the Mediterranean Sea, located near the modern-day city of Al Khums, 130 kilometres east of Tripoli.
The Leptis Magna site is simply one of the most spectacular and unspoiled Roman ruins on the Mediterranean. This archaeological site has justifiably been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its well-preserved and extensive remains and historical importance.
The city began as a trading port for the ancient people of Phoenicia around 1000 BC, and then became part of the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis around 23 BC. Leptis was the most easterly of the three cities that gave the North African region of Tripolitania its name.
In 439, Leptis Magna and the rest of the cities of Tripolitania fell under the control of the Vandals when their king, Gaiseric, captured Carthage from the Romans and made it his capital. Unfortunately for the future of Leptis Magna, Gaiseric ordered the city’s walls demolished so as to dissuade its people from rebelling against Vandal rule. But the people of Leptis and the Vandals both paid a heavy price for this in 523, when a group of Berber raiders sacked the city.
Belisarius recaptured Leptis Magna in the name of Rome 10 years later, and in 534 he destroyed the kingdom of the Vandals. Leptis became a provincial capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, but never recovered from the destruction wreaked upon it by the Berbers. By the time of the Arab conquest of Tripolitania in the 650s, the city was abandoned except for a Byzantine garrison force.
Among the many spectacular ruins found at the Leptis Magna site, ‘must-sees’ include the circus, the theatre, the Severan basillica, and the market place.
Leptis is best experienced over 2-3 days – the site is vast and to thoroughly appreciate the remarkable wonders of this ancient city, visitors should take their time.
Take time out to enjoy a picnic lunch or break from sightseeing with a view out over the Mediterranean Sea.
Marvel at the ‘Circus’ – a near-intact original playground of the Roman elite.
- Linger over breathtaking views of the Med contrasting with ancient temples.
- Wander through the marketplace and take a step back in time.