I was commissioned last year to write about Libya as a place to visit. I quaintly described it as 'bewitching, dramatic and historic', because those adjectives seemed appropriate at the time. Checking through my files I found the article again and re read it. How hollow and trite and irrelevant it now seems as I sat hypnotised this evening by the news watching the horrific haunting images float by, which are the tip of an iceberg of civil war. We are all watching history in the making. Revolution has gone viral, the start of a perfect storm, and I hope the people win. But I remember watching the film, The Last King of Scotland and couldn't help think of that film and that mad, diabolical, comical man came to mind as I watched the streets of Tripoli being set ablaze. How impotent and pathetic our politicians and the UN seem with their toothless resolutions. And all we send is our prayers while our governments probably send in armaments - but to which side and what end? this is what I wrote...... 'Most of this country – 90% to be exact - is engulfed by the Sahara, creating vast sand masses the size of the UK. Best known for its politics and leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, there is wealth far richer than the oil it produces – it is a living outdoor museum. The Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Spaniards, the Knights of St John of Malta, the Turkish, the Italians, they have all passed through Libya and all have left their foot print on this remarkable country.
Hosting some of the best examples of Roman and Greek cities in the Mediterranean. Tripoli alone, Libya’s largest city and capital is not only the country’s principal seaport but has a wealth of museums including the Natural History Museum, the Archaeological Museum and the Ethnographic.
Arguably the most inspirational and exciting museums in Libya are to be found in the cities of Cyrene, Sabratha and the magnificent Leptis Magna. Each have stunning examples or Roman and Greek architecture that echo a history most of us have only seen in films or books. Towering columns, statues, temples, baths, markets, mosaics, paintings, cemeteries and awe inspiring amphitheatres stand almost intact, statues of Gods and mythological animals look out and down over the ruins which have been kept intact in time.
Drive to the haunting oasis towns of Ghadarnes and Ghat, where you’ll find date palms, olive and orange trees framing lakes, fringed in turn by huge sand dunes. Discover the traditional architecture, folklore and art, as well as Roman and Libyan remains at Ghadarnes and the old city, Ottoman Fort and traditional architecture of Ghat. Head on to the extinct volcanoes such as Waw al-Namus where black volcanic sand borders multi coloured lakes. Trek even deeper into the desert and you’ll find one of the world’s finest open air art galleries of prehistoric rock art in Jebel Acacus. A journey to Libya is a trip back in time.'