Beaufort (Chqif)
Saida (Sidon)
Sour (Tyre)
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(0m - 80 km south of Beirut)


Tyre is really one of the most magnificent sights in the world and one of the greatest sculptured works of art that must be admired. Tyre was considered to be very powerful and wealthy due to its flourishing maritime trading, its purple dye and glass industries, but that attracted the enemies who occupied it. Tyre had witnessed many civilizations that played a great role in this city in the past like Arabs, Byzantines, Creeks, and Phoenicians.

The most important sights that reveal the great history of this ancient city are "The Triumphal Arc" that is dated to the 2nd and 3rd centuries, "The Necropolis", and "The Hippodrome".

In 1984 Tyre's important archeological remains prompted UNESCO to make the town a world heritage site. Prosperous Tyre is notable for its many high-rise buildings; nevertheless, the inner city has retained its industrious maritime character and its interesting old style houses.

Phoenician Tyre was queen of the seas, an island city of unprecedented splendor. She grew wealthy from her far-reaching colonies and her industries of purple-dyed textiles. But she also attracted the attention of jealous conquerors, among them the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great.

Founded at the start of the third millennium B.C., Tyre originally consisted of a mainland settlement and a modest island city that lay a short distance off shore. But it was not until the first millennium B.C. that the city experienced its golden age.

In the 10th century B.C. Hiram, King of Tyre, joined two islets by landfill. Later he extended the city further by reclaiming a considerable area from the sea. Phoenician expansion began about 815 B.C. when traders from Tyre founded Carthage in North Africa. Eventually its colonies spread around the Mediterranean and Atlantic, bringing to the city a flourishing maritime trade.
But prosperity and power make their own enemies. Early in the sixth century B.C.

Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, laid siege to the walled city for thirteen years. Tyre stood firm, but it is probable that at this time the residents of the mainland city abandoned it for the safety of the island.

In 332 B.C. Alexander the Great set out to conquer this strategic coastal base in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. Unable to storm the city, he blockaded Tyre for seven months. Again Tire held on. But the conqueror used the debris of the abandoned mainland city to build a causeway and once within reach of the city walls, Alexander used his siege engines to batter and finally breach the fortifications.

It is said that Alexander was so enraged at the Tyrians' defense and the loss of his men that he destroyed half the city. The town's 30,000 residents were massacred or sold into slavery.

Tyre and the whole of ancient Syria fell under Roman rule in 64 B.C Nonetheless, for some time Tyre continued to mint its own silver coins. The Romans built a great many important monuments in the city, including an aqueduct, a triumphal arch and the largest hippodrome in antiquity.

Christianity figures in the history of Tyre, whose name is mentioned in the New Testament. During the Byzantine era, the Archbishop of Tyre was the Primate of 311 the bishops of Phoenicia. At this time the town witnessed a second golden age as can he seen from the remains of its buildings and the inscriptions in the necropolis.

Taken by the Islamic armies in 634, the city offered no resistance and continued to prosper under its new rulers, exporting sugar as well as objects made of pearl and glass. With the decline of the Abbasid caliphate, Tyre acquired some independence under the dynasty of the Banu 'Aqil, vassals of the Egyptian Fatimides. This was a time when Tyre was adorned with fountains and its bazaars were full of all kinds of merchandise, including carpets and jewelry of gold and silver.

Thanks to Tyre's strong fortifications it was able to resist the onslaught of the Crusaders until 1124. After about 180 years of Crusader rule, the Mamlukes retook the city in 1291, then it passed on to the Ottomans at the start of the 16th century. With the end of World War I Tyre was integrated into the new nation of Lebanon.

The most important recent archaeological find is a Phoenician cemetery from the first millennium B.C. Discovered in 1991 during clandestine excavations, this is the first cemetery of its kind found in Lebanon Funerary jars, inscribed steles and jewelry were among the objects retrieved from the site.

The importance of this historical city and its monuments was highlighted in 1979 when UNESCO declared Tyre a World Heritage Site.

In the meantime, government efforts have stopped much of the wartime pillaging that Tyre's archaeological treasures suffered because of economic stress in the area and international demand for antiquities. Grassroots campaigns have also drawn attention to the importance of the city's antiquities.

The necropolis, excavated in 1962, yielded hundreds of ornate stone and marble sarcophagi of the Roman and Byzantine periods. Foundations of a Byzantine church can also be seen. The archway stands astride a Roman road that led into the ancient city. Alongside the road are the remains of the aqueduct that assured the city its water supply.

South of the necropolis is the partially reconstructed Roman hippodrome excavated in 1967. The 480-meter structure seated twenty thousand spectators who gathered to watch the death-defying sport of chariot racing. Each end of the course was marked by still existing stone turning posts (metae).

Charioteers had to make this circuit seven times. Rounding the metae at top speed was the most dangerous part of the race and often produced spectacular spills.


Skin Diving: Basic equipment is sufficient for exploring the ancient Phoenician breakwaters and jetties. Look for the Murex, still living along Tyre's shores among the rocks and sunken archaeological remains.

Ras el-Ain (6 kilometers south of Tyre) has been Tyre's main source of water since Phoenician days. Its artesian wells gush up into stone reservoirs that have been maintained through the ages. One of the reservoirs fed the arched aqueducts of the Roman period that once stretched all the way to Tyre

Sarafand (28 kilometers north of Tyre) is the site of ancient Serepta, mentioned in the Bible. Excavations here revealed the remains of Canaanite-Phoenician structures and Roman port installations. Modern Sarafand still has a workshop where the ancient Phoenician art of glass blowing is practiced.

Tomb of Hiram: On the road to Qana El-Jaleel, (6 kilometers southeast of Tyre) is a burial monument from the Persian period (550-330 B.C.). This has traditionally been called the tomb Of Hiram, the celebrated Phoenician architect of the Temple of Jerusalem.


Getting There ...
From Beirut take the southern highway leading to Sidon. Continue further south for about 45km before you reach Tyre. (
See South Map)




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