Libya… The Way We Were

For: Vincent Marian Plédel and Ocaña (text and photos)

Suddenly… a big bang. Libya, had seduced us from the first time that the wheels of our four×4 bit into the sand and our boots trod ghost towns of the past… closes a violent. It begins a bloody civil war against the dictator Gaddafi. But the long dark shadow of Islamic fundamentalism contaminate everything starts to change a dictatorship with another. The hospitality of its people, the remains of ancient civilizations and the dunes and fascinating desert oasis, with so many adventures we had captivated, losses were a torrid storm that still have not been released nor its inhabitants and its superb disheartened territory.

Wait patiently for the door to be reopened. It is impossible not to dream of your remains of ancient cultures, con tu Sahara, with your wide open spaces of spectacular beauty, with the lonely vastness of your landscapes almost unreal… So you met, so you want to remember and so we come back to find you.

It is impossible not to dream of your remains of ancient cultures, con tu Sahara, with your wide open spaces of spectacular beauty…

Libya, sometimes closed by the designs of dictator Gaddafi and others by international boycotts terrorists welcome any sign, always has emerged as a destination very complicated. With Algeria bathed in rivers of blood fundamentalist terrorism since the early 90, saw Libya as an emerging destination for discovering new treasures unusual. Getting the first visa was a real epic because Libya was in full boycott but the following, knowing the cumbersome procedure, were simpler. With its airspace closed, ground so they could access a way to Libya: overland.

Located on the Mediterranean, between two major recipients of tourism such as Tunisia and Egypt, our first entry to Libya was revealed with the magic of the countries that are discovered for the first time and which had not a single visitor. That's when the crush occurred. A real crush on a country have continued to visit over time… until the civil war has returned to leave prohibited. For those who did not make it in time to traverse, we invite you to meet through these lines, recalling our experiences for their haunting, extensive and majestic territory.

The Mediterranean Sea to the liberty that reach the African coast Phoenician, Greeks, Romans, Byzantine… As in the iconic imperial cities of Rome or Athens, erected on its banks that would big cities with theaters jealous, Temples, palaces, toilets, basilicas… now, as spectra of elegance and distinction, su evoke glorious imperial past. Enclosures as spectacular as Sabratha and Leptis Magna in Tripolitania or Cyrene and Apollonia in Cyrenaica, enclaves are certainly satisfying demands more passionate lover of archeology and we like to dream of another era cities.

They meet the demands of the most passionate lover of archeology and we like to dream of another era cities.

Following the road parallel to the sea is not difficult to get involved in a hot air up thick clouds of sand. The famous “yabli” Wind is caused by the low pressures Mediterranean, and creates an embarrassment really unbearable and annoying. With this stifling atmosphere enter into Tripolitania, to achieve Sabrata. The undisputed star is the famous theater, with their 108 Corinthian columns is an exact replica of the palace built by Septimus Severus in Rome. If we continue walking towards the beach we meet various temples, toilets, basilicas, forum, the curia ... showing that it was an important trading port. Probably under sea waters remain the remains of other temples that jealously guards the Mediterranean.

And their coast move up to the capital Tripoli or Tarabulus as the Arabs call. In ancient times it was the “White Bride of the Mediterranean”. If we move away from the heavy traffic, circulating breakneck speeds with sudden and violent frenazos acelerones,skillfully giving away cars Green Square finally we will enter in the Souq al-Mushir. The bustle of the market is more suggestive than the circulation. In the narrow alleys and discover galleries jewelers (mainly gold), tailors, carpet weavers (and very few) and copper artisans working with chisels or blow clean… A brief stop at one of its many cafes surrounds us with the aromatic essence of “chichas” – the popular Arabic water pipe and snuff-, old “funduk” -pension- Turkish with arched patios we offer a haven for rest and Hammam-baths- where men and women alternate opening days to disagree, a place to refresh.

In various corners we can find traces of successive historical episodes gathered in this city. Italian villas and palaces reveal their recent colonial past; the arch of Marcus Aurelius, opposite the fishing port, its Roman past reminds us; and the old Spanish castle, the imprint of Spanish knights of the Order of Malta who dominated the place.

So we only accompanies the wind hissing flirting with stones and the sound of our own footsteps.

The sea with its waves suggestive invites us to continue along its coastline ... and so we come to Leptis Magna. The coast was much feared Libya, both past and present, for its beaches inhospitable and treacherous shoals. But where Lebdah river flowed in this great city arose, birthplace of Emperor Septimus Severus. Remarkably well preserved and restored, the Roman Empire bequeathed his magnificent theater this coast with sea, forum, Severan Basilica, Adriano luxurious baths, market, of Ninfeo ...

Explore the ruins of this World Heritage Site in absolute solitude, with us only the hiss of the wind flirting with stones and the sound of our own footsteps. No place in Leptis Magna but it deserves special mention and one forgets the time enjoying among its imperial stones. Since its flourishing port was exported throughout the Mediterranean world ivory, gold, species and the most exquisite and valuable goods in convoy arrivals from all corners of the African continent.

At the other end of the country, Cyrenaica is the province of the Green Mountains and eloquent enough name to define the image of landscape in this region is far from a country which is almost completely covered by desert. After his counterpart Roman Tripolitania, Leptis Magna, Cyrene is the most outstanding ancient Greek metropolis. A monumental necropolis, gymnasium, agora, mausoleums, sources, Propylaea… reveal its importance with its immemorial presence. This huge city was part of the Greek Pentapolis and Apollonia, seaside, was the main port. And here it is possible to dive among the remains of the ancient Greek city .

Embedded, or maybe intoxicated, by ancient ruins of its coast now we jump south to go entering in the essence of Berber culture, the native inhabitants of Libyan territory. We began the exodus to the great Libyan desert.


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