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Alt Name:
Ancient Rome
Northern Africa
100AD - 199AD
Leptis Magna, Cyrene,

Sabratha history

Once a thriving Roman city, the impressive ruins of Sabratha lie approximately fifty miles west of Triopli, alongside the modern town of the same name.

Remarkably picturesque, the ruins of Sabratha look out across the Mediterranean and give modern visitors an insight into why this location served the ancient trading routes so well.

Much like Leptis Magna, Sabratha itself was a Roman conquest rather than a Roman creation, starting life as a Phoenician city before becoming part of the Numidian Kingdom and eventually falling under Roman control. The city flourished throughout the 2nd and 3rd centuries before a series of elements combined to cause its decline and eventual abandonment. A devastating earthquake struck Sabratha in the late 4th century (likely to have been around 365 AD) while the city suffered during the Vandal invasions and Byzantine Reconquest.

Much of what can be seen at Sabratha today was partially or wholly reconstructed by the Italians in the early 20th century – particularly under Mussolini who gave speeches from the ancient theatre.

Today, visitors can explore an impressive set of ruins, including the three-storey theatre, several temples and the remarkable remains of luxury Roman villas, which boast well preserved mosaics. Also found at Sabratha is the Byzantine-era Basilica of Justinian.

A good place to start your exploration is at the museum, which contains background information, exhibits and artefacts.

Check the official advice of your country’s foreign office before considering travelling to Libya.


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Toby Groom
05 Jun, 2012

Although Sabratha, which was mostly built from sandstone, has worn the passage of time much less well than nearby Leptis Magna, it is still well worth a visit. The site stretch down to the water's edge. At least one wild dog roams the ruins. The theatre - though largely restored - is still spectacular. The jumble of ruins is difficult to decipher without a guide or book, so try to bring one or the other. The museum is rather basic. I would allow 3 or 4 hours for the whole site.

Just as empires rise and fall so do entry fees and opening hours! While we work as hard as we can to ensure the information provided here about Sabratha is as accurate as possible, the changing nature of certain elements mean we can't absolutely guarantee that these details won't become a thing of the past. If you know of any information on this page that needs updating you can add a comment above or now.

contact details

Address: Sabratha, Libya

Phone: Contact local tourist office

visitor information

Directions to Sabratha:
The ruins of Sabratha are located just outside the modern town of the same name, which lies approximately 50 miles west of Tripoli.

Sabratha opening times and ticket prices:
Several specialist tour operators offer trips to Sabratha.


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