A walk through the ancient city of oea

The name "Oea" came from the Phoenicians who established trading posts in northwestern Libya over 3,000 years ago.

Oea consisted of present-day Tripoli, Sabratha, and Leptis Magna where empires such as the Roman and Ottoman flourished.

Photo by Abdalhameed Elmahmudi

Start the Tour Here

The Red Fortress

On the outskirts of present-day Old City Tripoli, stands the Red Castle or the Red Fortress.

This fortress was used by the Phoenicians, Romans, and Ottomans to defend their settlements throughout time.

Photo by Essra Elnbrawy

The Spanish Invasion

Its red walls

This castle wasn't painted red until after the Spanish invasion in 1510, from which its name is derived.

Photo by Shahd Omar

The red castle


Though this building is a piece of history itself, it is a museum that sits at the heart of modern day Tripoli, filled with artifacts from pre-historic times to the Phoeanicians and Romans.

Photo by Shahd Omar

Roman influence

Due to the +700 year Roman rule of Oea, Libya is abundant of Roman ruins artifacts.

Photo by Lana (@luna_s_world)

Expelling the spaniards

Sidi Darghut Mosque

Speaking of the Red Castle Museum and its invasion by the Spaniards, if you take a short walk through the narrow paths of the city, the Minaret of Sidi Darghut Mosque will begin to appear.

This mosque was built around 1560, which commemorates the 1551 Ottoman victory of regaining Oea from the Spanish invasion.

Photo by Taha Jawashi

A Roman Oea

The Arch of Marcus Aurelius

A few minutes down the Sidi Darghut Mosque, stands the arch of Marcus Aurelius, an entrance to Roman Oea.

You'll find this 2,000 year old triumphant marble arch magnificently standing.

Photo by Mohamed Alselini

Its details

Despite being about 2,000 years old, the details on the arch still remain.

At the time of its construction in 165 AD, the Arch of Marcus Aurelius was considered as one of the most elaborately decorated arches in North Africa.

Among the acanthus leaves, vines, and grapes etched into the pillars are various figures including captured locals and the city's patron deities of Apollo and Minerva.

Photo by Rahma Akram

The Green Marble Minaret

Gurgi Mosque

The iconic green marble minaret (pointed structure), stands elegantly behind the arch.

This mosque was built in 1834 by the Ottomans during their rule.

Photo by Rahma Akram

Gurgi Mosque's

Vibrant Tiles

This historic monument combines European and Islamic art with its captivating colors and geometrics. The mosque is embellished with beautiful, white marble columns and vibrant tiles. 

Photo by Taha Jawashi

Turks in Libya

The Karamanly Estate

Libya was ruled by the Ottomans or Turks for a couple of hundred years, and the estate of Karamanly is one of buildings that showcases life of the Turkish elites during this period.

It is during this period when baklava was most likely introduced to the Libyan region.

Photo by Asma Almislaty

The ottoman estate's

Eloquent Mosaics

This estate is enchanted by bright colored mosaics and columns.

This building was where the family of the Karamanly took residence during their rule in Libya.

Photo by Asma Almislaty

Christianity during Ottoamn Oea

Church of Santa Maria

Although Libya is a Muslim country, Christians also resided in the region.

The Church of Santa Maria was built in 1645 under the Muslim Ottoman rule.

Photo by Badria Sherif

Exiting the Old City

The Ottoman Clocktower

As you exit the old city, you'll come across this magnificent clocktower built during the Ottoman rule.

There are many structures that reside in this small area of the old city alone. Since it was the main city hub for most civilizations that resided in Libya over thousands of years, there are likely many structures that remain underground.

Now, let's travel to the second portion of Oea known as Leptis Magna or Sabratha today.

Photo by Bayan Elgadi

Entering Leptis Magana

Arch of Septimus Severus

77 miles east of Tripoli lies Leptis Magna.

The Arch of Septimus Severus leads into the city of Leptis Magna and this triumphant arch was built by the Libyan-born emperor, Septimus Severus.

Photo by Ibtihal (@ibtihal.98)

A 3,000 year old city

Standing the test of time

The city of Leptis Magna was a thriving city where the Roman elites resided and exotic goods were exported.

It's considered as one of the most well-preserved sites outside of Rome since it wasn't excavated from the sand until the early 1900s.

Photo by Ibtihal (@ibtihal.98)

The grand

Roman amphitheater

The beautiful amphitheater overlooking the turquoise Mediterranean Sea, signals that Leptis Magna was a lively city filled with entertainment.

Photo by Ibtihal (@ibtihal.98)

Ancient finds

Medusa Statue

At every corner of this ancient city is small details and statues showcasing the ancient Romans' daily life and deities.

Photo by @aa_milad

A place for business

The Market

The market is where merchants sold goods such as exotic textile and fruits.

Photo by Melanie Armstrong


You completed your tour of ancient oea

Through these few images, we hope you see how special ancient Oea is and have gained the same appreciation we have for it.

We hope you can one day visit our beloved Libya. 💛

Photo by Jon Mendoza