By Libya Herald reporter.
30 November 2014:
The historic Sebha castle which was damaged during fighting in the town at the beginning . . .[restrict]of the year remains secured whilst heritage organisations work on the final stages of a report outlining necessary repair works.
The castle, which appears on the ten-dinar banknote, had two holes blown in the outer walls during fighting around the town in January. The missiles were allegedly fired from a half-finished building project behind the castle that was stalled during the Revolution and, later, became used by armed groups as an ad-hoc encampment.
“The damage has been documented by experts and a report detailing this is now being finalised,” head of the Sebha Department of Culture and Civil Society Organisations Ibrahim Bashir told the Libya Herald. The next stage would be for decisions to be made by heritage experts on how best to repair the walls, he explained.
“We think that repair work may take up to a year to begin because we need international experts to carry out such works,” Bashir said, adding that the current situation in Libya would prevent foreign workers travelling to south of the country. In the meantime, the building was being secured and protected by forces from Tripoli and Misrata, he added.
Delays in decision-making were being further compounded, Bashir explained, by confusion over which government department had final say over work relating to the castle. “There is some debate now about who is actually responsible for the castle, whether it is the Historic Buildings Association, or the Department of Antiquities. At the moment, it seems to fall in between the two,” he said.
Once the castle was fully repaired, it could be reopened to the public, Bashir added.
Sebha castle was used as a military base under the regime of Muammar Qaddafi and local people had no access for decades. One local resident said he waited forty years to see inside the castle, which was first reopened to the public after the 17 February Revolution. “The engineer who designed this structure was obviously very good,” he said. “It is very impressive and inside there are many rooms constructed on several floors.”
Although the castle was more than 400 years old, he explained, it was extensively rebuilt during the Italian occupation in the early 20th century. During the colonial period it was called Fortezza Margherita, after Italy’s Queen Margherita.