A Building with Benghazi’s Memory

"Dina Al-Fazzani"

The building on 13 Gamal Abdel Nasser Street (formerly Al-Istiklal), dating back to the Italian days, is a reservoir of Benghazi’s memories. My story with the building began when my family moved, in 1998, to live in one of its apartments overlooking the sea, opposite the entrance to the main port of Benghazi. The architecture and the view from the window made it impossible to think of trading this apartment for any other, even if it were larger or more luxurious. Built in approximately 1914, it was said that the building once had a prison in its basement, where Sheikh Omar Al-Mukhtar had been detained. He was being tried nearby, at the ancient Parliament of Cyrenaica.

Who among the residents of Benghazi does not know the "Lanqi" building (named after its previous owner) in the center of the city? Who has not not passed by it on their way to Al-Sabri or the rest of Benghazi, whether by car or on foot? 

The building was considered to be one of the landmarks of Benghazi and its old city. If you searched "Benghazi" on Google before 2011, you would undoubtedly find its picture on numerous websites. 

The war forced us out of our homes in 2014, along with many other residents of Benghazi. After about four bitter years away from the building, we returned to find its skeleton in the rubble, our memories stolen and destroyed. Since then, the demolished building’s remains have just stood there. It is as though a part of me has been demolished along with it. 

The building may not be as beautiful as the ones in Rome, for example, but it does tell the story of a historical era in this city. Countless memories were formed in its apartments and in the neighboring city center.  

I personally believe in the saying: "He who has no history has no present." To me, this building, together with and a number of others in downtown Benghazi, have collectively shaped the city’s memory and history. These buildings have a soul and a history, and have reflected the city’s milestones and changes over the years.

Whenever I pass by the site these days, I experience great distress and indescribable pain, and I feel helpless for not being able to do anything to bring the place back to life.

Born in Benghazi, she is a researcher in the field of human rights and women’s rights. She holds a master’s degree in management and organization from the Libyan Academy in Benghazi and has worked with several international organizations.

Dina Al-Fazzani
Previous Story
You’ll Grow Up, and You’ll Understand
Next Story
The Neighbors