The largest city in Libya and among the largest cities in North Africa, modern Tripoli is a mix of the old world dating back to the Classical Age, along with signs of the modernization of the Muslim world. While the city has suffered greatly throughout the centuries, little devastation, including that of the 1986 bombing of the city by American forces, is evident today.

The city is the main port of Libya and home to the seat of government. The various administrative buildings and governmental structures are fairly new, many built since that 1986 reprisal bombing by US and British forces. The downtown of the city is modern yet still evokes the typical images of a Middle Eastern city. And while located in North Africa, Libya is a reminder of the stretching influence of the Middle Eastern architecture in modern buildings.

The old town is like another world completely, dominated by the large Assaraya al-Hamra, or “Red Castle,” that dominates the picturesque old-world skyline. This structure predates the Ottoman rule, but underwent numerous additions and renovations that it is clearly today in the style of the Ottoman era.

The old walled city is home to the largest Medina in Tripoli. This area includes the pre-Roman and Roman street layout, along with some of the oldest buildings in the area. This includes some of the buildings from when the city was known as Tripolitania, as well as the Arch of Marcus Aurelius, who was one of the leading figures in Roman history in North Africa.

The existing walls are built over the old Roman era walls, and these include those that were built centuries later to help fend off attacks from the sea. Outside the walls are a few reminders from the area’s colonial past, including houses and other buildings that were constructed during the years of Italian control from 1911 until the outbreak of World War II.