Qasr Libya ('Libya Castle')
Qasr Libya is located about 50 miles to the west of Cyrene city. The name Qasr or Qaser Libya means the "castle of Libya" (with the usual change of L to R) and hence the place is also known as "Castle Libya". Some archaeologists referred to this location by the name of Qasr el-Lebia or Qaser Libia, and further suggested that it may have been related to the ancient village of Olbia, a settlement that was the seat of a Bishopric during the Byzantine period in classical Libya, situated along the road to Albieda or Albyda. The city was attacked several times by various invaders, but it was however restored to its glory by the Byzantine emperor Justinian in 539 AD, who named it Theodorais, after his wife Theodora who was brought up in nearby Apollonia.
Libya Castle (Fort)
Qasr Libya is mainly known for its 6th century Byzantine church, with a stunning mosaic floor panels, widely viewed as some of the world's finest examples. The theme is mainly mythical representation of the various spiritual beings of the pre-Roman era, as well as those of Christian symbolism, strongly indicating a time when both Paganism and Christianity were equally tolerated. The mosaic floor was discovered in 1957 by some labourers working on an American-sponsored project.
One mosaic is divided into 50 square panels (10 rows by 5 each), separated by a guilloche design. Among the gods depicted are four River-gods, including Geon (Nile), Physon, Tigris and Euphrates, later assimilated as the Four Rivers of Paradise. An inscription on one of these reads: "the new city, Theodorias", flanked by female personifications of Kosmesis (adornment), Ktisis (foundation) and Ananeosis (renewal), which some say were associated with the renaming of Olbia in honour of Theodora, the wife of the Emperor Justinian (around 539 AD). In addition to gods and goddesses there are images of human figures, horsemen, musicians, seamen (including a merman with trident), sea monsters, birds, ostriches, crocodiles, bulls, zebras and leopards.