On day three, we once again got a not-too-early start at 9am for the drive to what was promised to be the highlight of the trip: the ruins of Leptis Magna. Leptis Magna is located around 130 km to the east of Tripoli, and the road is in pretty good shape the whole way. The drive took nearly two hours, but that is because the suburbs of Tripoli just sprawl and sprawl, and it was a good while before we were able to get any decent speed going.
Leptis Magna was initially founded somewhere around 1100 BC by the Phonecians, and really finally grew under Carthage around 400 BC. Around 200 BC it was conquered by the Romans in the Punic Wars, and that’s when it really began to thrive, and it’s that period that most of the ruins seem to be from, although some go back to the times of Carthage as well. Around 400 AD the Vandals conquered Leptis Magna, and it declined relatively quickly.
Approaching the ruins, the first ruin we came across was the Arch of Septimus Severus, built in the year 203 AD. It is restored, and thought to be a gift from the Emperor when he returned to Leptis Magna as a gift.
Continuing past the arch, the next area was the Plastra, a 3rd century courtyard for several different sports. It was in front of the Hadrian Baths, built under Emperor Hadrian between 126-127 AD.