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This article is about the town in southwestern Libya. For the district of which it is the seat, see Murzuq District.
Fort and mosque of Murzuk
Fort and mosque of Murzuk
Murzuk is located in Libya
Location in Libya
Coordinates: 25°54′49″N 13°55′01″E / 25.91361°N 13.91694°E / 25.91361; 13.91694
Country  Libya
Region Fezzan
District Murzuq
Elevation [1] 1,486 ft (453 m)
Population (2011)[2]
 • Total 12,746
Time zone UTC + 2

Murzuk or Murzuq (Arabic: مرزق‎) is an oasis town and the capital of the Murzuq District in the Fezzan region of southwest Libya.[3] Murzuk lies on the northern edge of the Murzuq Desert, a desert of ergs or great sand dunes, and section of the Sahara Desert.


Murzuk developed around the oasis, a stop on the north-south trade route across the Sahara. In 1310 a major fort, now in ruins, was built and later the Ottoman Empire capital town of Fezzan prospered for six hundred years. The town had a major fort, and was termed the "Paris of the Sahara".[4] It was occupied by the Ottomans in 1578 and served as the capital of Fezzan off and on. Although the Ottomans frequently had a garrison there[5] control was under the Sultan of Fezzan.[6]

In the early nineteenth century, Murzuk served as a jumping off point for multiple British expeditions to find Lake Chad and the legendary Timbuktu. Explorers such as the 1822 Denham, Oudney and Clapperton expedition went from Tripoli to this city where they attempted to get both protection and supplies for the trip south. Murzuk was considered unhealthy by many British explorers and led to illness for many, killing some and forcing others back to Tripoli. According to James Richardson: 'Feb 26th (1846). I must now consider myself recovered from indisposition. At first, people talked so much about Mourzuk fever that I thought I must have it as a matter of course...Three quarters of the Europeans who come here invariably have the fever. I speak of the Turks. It attacks them principally in the beginning of the hot, and cold, weather, or in May and November. ... Mourzuk is emphatically called, like many places of Africa, Blad Elhemah, country of fever.'[7][citation needed]

The Ottomans ceded Fezzan with the rest of their Libyan territories to the Italians in 1912 (Italo-Turkish War) to become part of colonial Italian Libya. Murzuk was not actually occupied by the Italians until 1914. The town declined with the advent of modern transportation in the late 19th and 20th centuries. In 1960 it had a population of 7,000 residents.[3]

Libyan civil war[edit]

See also: Fezzan campaign

During the Libyan civil war, Murzuk was reported on 19 August 2011 as having been captured by forces of the National Transitional Council as part of the Sahara desert region's Fezzan campaign in.[8][verification needed]


  1. ^ Wolfram Alpha
  2. ^ "World Gazeteer". Archived from the original on 5 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Robinson, Harry (1960) "Murzuq" The Mediterranean Lands University Tutorial Press, London, p. 414 OCLC 10499572
  4. ^ The term "Paris of the Sahara" is more usually applied to Marrakesh.
  5. ^ Abun-Nasr, Jamil M. (1987) A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, p. 315, ISBN 0-521-33767-4
  6. ^ Hornemann, Friedrich (1802) The journal of Frederick Horneman's travels from Cairo to Mourzouk: the capital of the kingdom of Fezzan in Africa in the years 1797-8 Darf, London, OCLC 81364609; republished under various titles including Missions to the Niger
  7. ^ Richardson, James, 'Travels in the Great Desert of Sahara, in the Years of 1845 and 1846, London 1848 (ch XXV)
  8. ^ "Al Qathafi Seeking Refuge in Arab Countries?". The Tripoli Post. 19 August 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
Ottoman Empire era fortress of Murzuk.

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 25°54′N 13°54′E / 25.900°N 13.900°E / 25.900; 13.900