Marble Arch (Libya)

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German tanks of the Afrika Korps cross the Arch in March 1941 to start the Axis counter-offensive in Cyrenaica.

The Marble Arch (Italian: Arco dei Fileni), formerly known in Libya as El Gaus (i.e. The Arch), was a monument in Libya built during the days of Italian colonization. The arch marked the border between Italian Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, and was located on the Libyan Coastal Highway (at that time Via Balbia) near Ra's Lanuf.[1] It was designed by architect Florestano Di Fausto in response to a request by the Italian Governor-General Italo Balbo. It was unveiled on 16 March 1937 in a lavish night ceremony attended by Benito Mussolini.

The arch, which was 31 meters high, with an opening 15.75 meters high and 6.5 meters wide, was located some 30 km (19 mi) west of the possible borders between Carthage and Cyrene, the locality called Philenes' Altars (Latin: Arae Philaenorum) which was located approximately halfway between Ra's Lanuf, and El Agheila.[1] .

The Marble Arch during WWII

The landmark was named after the legendary Philaeni brothers of Carthage, who chose to be buried alive on that spot in order to gain this border for their hometown. It bore two giant bronze statues of the brothers, represented as buried alive, surmounted by a stylised altar. The landmark was decorated by basreliefs which illustrated the legend.

It bore an inscription in Latin placed at the top of the structure which was taken from Horace's Carmen Saeculare. It read: Alme Sol, possis nihil urbe Roma visere maius which translates to: "Oh kind Sun, may you never look upon a city greater than Rome". King Idris of Libya let the latin inscription translated in Arab.

The arch was reproduced in postcards and Lottey tickets and soon became one of the symbols of Italian Lybia.

The arch was demolished by dynamite in the 1973 by the revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi, who considered the landmark as a sign of the Italian domination of Lybia. The two bronze statues of the Philene brothers and parts of the marble reliefs are now located in a small museum in Medinat Sultan, around 50 km from Sirte.



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Coordinates: 30°19′55.35″N 18°46′34.66″E / 30.3320417°N 18.7762944°E / 30.3320417; 18.7762944