Leptis Magna: The UNESCO World Heritage site you’ve probably never heard of

One of the Roman Empire’s most beautiful cities, Leptis Magna now lies neglected after a decade of civil war in Libya.

Perched on a hillside above the Mediterranean, the UNESCO World Heritage site includes a large basilica, a racecourse and an amphitheatre which once seated up to 15,000 spectators.

Founded by the Phoenicians before being conquered by Rome, the city was the birthplace of Septimius Severus, who rose to become emperor from 193 AD until 211 AD. Septimius favored his hometown above all other provincial cities. And the wealth he lavished on it made Leptis Magna the third-most important city in Africa, rivaling both Carthage and Alexandria.

Visiting the city now is

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