Ismail Zitouny / Reuters
A view showing one of the entrances to Bab al-Aziziya, Moammar Gadhafi's former Tripoli compound.
When Colonel Muammar Gadhafi ruled Libya with an iron fist, the Bab al-Aziziya military compound in the center of the capital was a constant and terrifying reminder of his brutal regime.
Hundreds of bodyguards patrolled its six-square kilometers of lush parkland, shielded from the rest of Tripoli by razor wire and machine gun towers.
But as the rebuilding of the country continues in the wake of Gadhafi's 2011 overthrow and killing, the country's tourism minister has announced that the once-feared site is to be cleared and turned into a park.
“Bab al-Aziziya will be a green area, for development and entertainment for every Libyan in the city of Tripoli,” Ikram Basha Imam told reporters in Tripoli on Tuesday.
“The capital does not have green areas, it does not have a breathing lung for the residents of the city,” she added.
When rebels, with help from NATO air raids, reached the Libyan capital in August 2011, the compound was raided by looters who stole items including a gold toilet brush and silver-plated rifles.
The homeless families who have been occupied the premises since the conflict will also be rehoused, she said.
Gadhafi was captured and killed in October 2011.
Take a pictorial tour through war-torn Tripoli after rebels overran Moammar Gadhafi's compound in August, 2011.
A spokesman for the Libyan embassy in London said the plan aimed to create a space in the center of the city, similar to New York's Central Park.
He added that there were similar plans for the barracks in Benghazi, the country's second city, where violent protests first sparked Gadhafi's overthrow in February 2011.
“The economy has been doing well,” he said. “But we have a number of projects that we are starting or restarting so that the quality of people’s lives can improve. This is just one way of doing that.”
He added that, under Gadhafi's rule, the compound resembled a movie villain’s lair, with an intricate system of tunnels, a recording studio and library.
“It is great that we can give this back to the people,” the spokesman said.