Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. The city was founded in the 7th century BC, by the Phoenicians, who gave it the Libyco-Berber name Oea suggesting that the city may have been built upon an existing native town. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three Cities", introduced in Western European languages through Italian Tripoli. The city is located in the northwest part of the country on the edge of the desert, on a point of rocky land projecting into the Mediterranean and forming a bay. The city includes the Port of Tripoli and the country's largest commercial and manufacturing centre. It is also the site of the University of Tripoli. The vast Bab al-Azizia barracks, which includes the former family compound of Muammar Gaddafi, is also located in the city; Gaddafi largely ruled the country from his residence in this barracks.Tripoli was founded in the 7th century BC by the Phoenicians, who named it Oea.
The city's old town, the Medina, is still unspoiled by mass-tourism, though it was increasingly exposed to more and more visitors from abroad, following the lifting of the UN embargo in 2003. However, the walled Medina retains much of its serene old-world ambiance. The Red Castle Museum (Assaraya al-Hamra), a vast palace complex with numerous courtyards, dominates the city skyline and is located on the outskirts of the Medina. There are some classical statues and fountains from the Ottoman period scattered around the castle.