Cyrene

sights / Historic

Lonely Planet review

Second in importance only to Leptis Magna, Cyrene is a must see. It ranks as the best preserved of the Greek cities of Cyrenaica, with its temples, tombs, agora, gymnasium and theatre originally modelled on those at Delphi. Apart from the spectacular Greek ruins, its location high on a bluff overlooking the sea is stunning.

Founded by Greek settlers from the island of Thera (modern Santorini) in 631 BC, Cyrene was the pre-eminent city of the Greek world in the 4th century BC. It was renowned for its philosophers, astronomers, mathematicians and other scholars. After the change from Greek to Roman administration in 75 BC, Cyrene became an important Roman capital.

Amongst the numerous highlights of this large site is the Skyrota, the main road through the Greek city. It is still lined with impressive columns bearing graven images of Hermes and Hercules. There is also the 5th century BC Temple of Zeus and Cyrene's museum which is filled with wonderful statues, sculptures and other artefacts that once adorned this extraordinary city.