November 5, 2003
At its peak, in C17, the plans show that it was surrounded by a moat and was almost entirely self-contained, with its own mint, jail, court, trading areas, housing, harem... On Italian conquest in 1911, it was turned into offices and a museum -- these days, part of the area houses the Jamahiriya museum and the rest can be explored (quietly, since it is also a workplace for the Department of Antiquities).
There are very few signposts or marking inside to tell you what you’re looking at but it’s nice just to wander up the ramps and down the staircases, poking into little holes and peeping over the occasional rampart. Past the ticket desk (often completely unmanned so it can be difficult to pay), you go through into a courtyard with flowering shrubs and attractively tiled fountain. From place to place, there are also tiled areas on walls, round doorways and windows, and random pieces of marble and mosaic lying around. Through another doorway off to the left is a courtyard with two enormous trees, shading benches and a make-shift table; from here, go up some stone steps to the top of the castle (not view to speak of unfortunately though you can get a better look at the ship and cavalier atop the towers on Green Square). To your left are a couple of rather rusted old cannons. On the way out, you pass underneath windows from which you may have looked out on the third floor of the museum, past two impressive stone lions and some further pieces of mosaic that may be undergoing work or may have been abandoned there...
Open 9-1 and 3-6 Tues-Sun; 3LD (plus 5LD/10LD -- camera/video). Access is under the left of the two medina arches and then signposted to the right.
When you're done inside, wander through Green Square, past the towers with the ship/cavalier on top and the large picture of the Colonel, and do a loop of the walkway for lovely views of the fort across the water.
From journal Let loose in Libya