Cyrene: The Impressive Ancient Greek City of Libya (video)

Ruins of an ancient Greek temple in Cyrene

2,600 years ago, a group of Greeks from the island of Thira (also known as Santorini) headed south, searching for a new place to live. Their journey ended in the northern part of Africa, where modern-day Libya is found.

These Greek settlers established a new city and they called it Cyrene.

The city was founded in 631 BC and Cyrene obtained its first King, Battus.

Battus was the first powerful man of what later became the famous dynasty of Battiads.

Cyrene, in northern Africa

The Battiads ruled Cyrene for 8 generations, until 440 BC. Under their rule, the port city of Apollonia was founded along with Berenice, today’s Benghazi.

Cyrene was prosperous and had trade ties with every Greek city in today’s Greek mainland and islands.

The city became a Republic in 460 BC, following the tradition that Athens had established.

When Alexander the Great died in 323 BC the Cyrenian Republic became subject to the Ptolemaic Dynasty and a few centuries later became part of the Roman Empire as a province.

Cyrene’s ruins remain there as a reminder of the region’s rich past, that was shaped by Greeks and Romans alike.