The Romans Were Here: Leptis Magna, Libya

On the Mediterranean shore about 130 km east of Tripoli in Libya lies one of the most beautiful cities of the Roman Empire, and one that is incredibly well preserved. Leptis Magna, now a UNESCO world heritage site, was built during the reign of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus in the 3rd century CE. That a Roman city this impressive was built in northern Africa, more than 2,000 km away from Rome, may seem odd but it epitomized the ambitions of Roman rulers at the height of the empire.

Septimius Severus (reign: 193 – 211) was born in Leptis Magna itself, and as such, he took pride in overseeing the development of the city into a marvel of Roman town planning and architecture. The careful planning that went into the city is evident even today. Some of the best preserved ruins in Leptis Magna such as the marketplace, the Severan Basilica, the Forum, the Amphitheatre and the Severan Arch, have survived various invasions that befell Leptis Magna from the fourth century onwards, culminating in its fall to the Hilalians in the 11th century.

Fragments of the stage and auditorium.
Closeup view of the amphitheatre.
The amphitheatre.
Remains of colonades.
Ancient walkways leading to the Arch of Septimius Severus.
The Arch of Septimius Severus.
Arch of Septimius Severus: relief portraying the triumph of the Emperor who is accompanied by his two sons Geta (left) and Caracalla (right); the face of Geta was erased after his assassination by Caracalla in 211. Museum of Tripoli.
Remains of the market place.
Reconstruction of the market place.
Artist’s impression of the market place.
The imposing Basilica.
Heads of Medusa decorate the forum.
If only the stones could speak…
Ancient Roman mosaic
Ancient Roman mosaic
Relief carvings on a Roman road.
Final view of the Arch.


For a computer reconstruction of the amphitheatre of Leptis Magna, check out this video:

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