Tyre Things to Do

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    The Old City

    by MM212 Updated Feb 5, 2015

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    Old Tyre is the area just south and west of the fishing port in the peninsula of Tyre. The charming town is rather compact and has some beautiful old architecture. However, it has lagged other Lebanese cities in terms of restoration and rehabilitation, likely because of its precarious location closest to the volatile Israeli border which has deterred investment. Nevertheless, there is some encouraging work happening (see attached photos). The traditional souk lies within the narrow streets and is worth a visit despite being less interesting and extensive than those of Sidon or Tripoli. The Old City also contains a number of old mosques and churches, with the latter concentrated at the tip of the peninsula in what is known as the Christian Quarter.

    For more photos, check out the travelogue "Old Tyre".

    Mediaeval arches on antique columns - Jan 2010 St Anthony of Padova, Christian Quarter, Jan 2010 The covered souk - Jan 2010
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    Tyre Port

    by mikey_e Written Dec 1, 2012

    Part of the beauty of Tyre is its picturesque port area. The port is entirely devoted to small fishing boats and, I would bet, pleasure cruises. There are few large vessels, and, together, it gives the impression of a sleepy and peaceful backwater town. There is fervent construction not far from the fort, and I would bet that within a few years it will be fully developed into a tourist attraction to rival Beirut.

    Fishing boats in port More of the harbour Caf�� on the water

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    Carmelite Church

    by mikey_e Written Dec 1, 2012

    The old city of Tyre has a significant Christian population, descendants of the initial, largely Christian population. Apparently, many of them are Catholics, and it is here that the Carmelite church and nunnery are found. In addition to serving the spiritual needs of the population, the church also services as a cultural centre, and I saw an ad for a baroque concert being held during May 2012 in the church.

    Entrance to the Church View from the entrance portico Courtyard of the church
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    Old Tyre

    by mikey_e Written Dec 1, 2012

    In the campaign to rebuild Tyre, there has been considerable energy expended on reviving the old quarter of the city and its quaint and enchanting alleyways. This is obviously a project driven by the revenue potential of tourism to the region, as much of this section appears to be Christian, and thus not immediately susceptible to the political goals of the dominant Amal and Hizbullah movements. Nevertheless, the alleyways are indeed a treat, and it is obvious to anyone who visits why they would be prioritized in the drive for tourist dollars and euros. Many of the buildings here are private residences and restaurants, and thus the primary joy comes from observing the architecture and the explosion of colours.

    Tyre's old city Colourful houses in the old town Languishing in the doorway in the old town
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    Tyre Souq

    by mikey_e Written Dec 1, 2012

    Tyre, of course, has its Souq, which is still a vibrant and lively section of the town. As a historical urban setting, Tyre's Souq is obviously an old establishment, although it does appear that much of the Souq has been rebuilt following the various waves of destruction (both manmade and natural) that have struck the region. As such, it does not have the same sort of ancient sections as Damascus Souq. This makes for less glaring anachronisms when you are confronted by the cheap clothing and toys imported from China, but also leads to a bit of disappointment for those who might be expecting a real sense of ancient wonder.

    Fish seller in the souq Back entrance to the Souq Inside Tyre Souq Consumer goods in the Souq

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    Restored Shiite Mosque

    by mikey_e Written Dec 1, 2012

    Tyre is a predominantly Shiite city, despite its initially important role in the early history of Christianity. This particular mosque is pertains to the Shi'ite awqaf, and was reconstructed after some sort of calamity or destruction. It is not a particularly aesthetically pleasing mosque, and was certainly not constructed in the usual Iranian style that is associated with the grand mosques in other cities, but its simple lines and austere decoration are reminiscent of the ensemble of the city's architecture and of the style found in other seaside cities, such as Jbeil.

    Shiite Mosque Entrance to the Mosque Entrance to the courtyard Well out front of the mosque Minaret of the mosque
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    Ruins annex

    by mikey_e Written Dec 1, 2012

    On the opposite side of Awkaf Street from the main grouping of Roman ruins, there is a separate grouping of far less well preserved ancient structures. Here, there are visible traces of buildings and roads made from the same stone as the Roman structures in the main complex. It appears that some of these remains, however, are from the time of the Crusaders, and contain Latin inscriptions from them.

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    The Corniche

    by mikey_e Written Dec 1, 2012

    Every Arab city on a coast has its Corniche. One of the greatest forms of entertainment for young people and families is the ability to parade up and down the Corniche, chatting and enjoying the sound and smell of the sea. The Corniche is not nearly as built up in Tyre as in other cities, but it still affords some pretty views of the Mediterranean and the renewed old city.

    The Corniche Soldiers on the Corniche

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    Mosaic

    by mikey_e Written Dec 1, 2012

    Despite the impermanence of many of forms of the arts - whether because they are based on an ephemeral act, or because of the perishability of their products - at least some of the creative products of the Romans have survived to our day because of the use of durable material, such as some. In the Roman ruins of Tyre one such example is the mosaic that can be found in the initial section of the complex. The mosaic does not show figurative forms, which is likely why it has been preserved from the worst of the fanatics who might have sought to eliminate figurative art after the fathat al Islam.It shows a series of plant forms in pale greys and sepia. The entire mosaic is still in place, which, in itself, is fairly impressive.

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    Sarcophoghi

    by mikey_e Written Dec 1, 2012

    In addition to the normal houses for the living, there are the ordinary houses for the dead that fill the initial section of the complex. These are small, carved stone boxes that can be seen at hazard, apparently within the rest of the structures that housed the living. Not being well educated on matters of archeology, I'm not certain of the social position or importance of the people whose sarcophoghi remain in the Roman ruins, although given the size and the late of ornate carvings, I would imagine that they were wealthy but not ruling members of society.

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    Ordinary Roman Homes

    by mikey_e Written Dec 1, 2012

    One of the greatest aspects of the old Roman city of Tyre is the abundance of small structures remaining around the more monumental constructs of the complex. They point to the lives of the ordinary citizens, and to the manner in which the Roman city was organized. While none of the roofs remain (they were likely made of something much more perishible), many of the walls, doors and stairways are still standing.

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    Hippodrome Arches

    by mikey_e Written Nov 30, 2012

    The arches of the hippodrome are large enough that a visitor can wander in and through them. They are a tribute to Roman engineering, and it is a sign of just how sturdily they were built that they have survived not only 2000 years of wind and rain, but also numerous earthquakes.

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    Obelisk and Altar

    by mikey_e Written Nov 30, 2012

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    The centre of the Hippodrome has structures that appear to be the altar and obelisk that would have been for sacrificial and celebratory purposes. This isn't an expert opinion, but it's what I am supposing they were for based on what appears in Baalbek. In any case, the obelisk is one of the best preserved pieces in the entire complex.

    The Obelisk The altar Obelisk from afar Along the hippodrome to the obelisk
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    Hippodrome

    by mikey_e Written Nov 30, 2012

    The Hippodrome, or the section of the old Roman town that was devoted to the racing of horses and similar shows, is by far the largest section of the ruins. There is little left to give it the same shape as it would have had, but it is clear that this was a massive section of the town, and that it was used by spectators. The seating is still seen in parts, and it is obvious that it must have accommodated thousands.

    The Hippodrome View of the seating The edge of the hippodrome Narrow end seating Close-up of the seating
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    Cordo Maximus

    by mikey_e Written Nov 30, 2012

    As in every Roman city, Tyre has its Cordo Maximus, and unlike in Anjar, a fair amount of the arches that lined the Cordo Maximus are still standing. These give the entire way along the Cordo a sense of pomp and majesty that is palpable even now, despite the ruins.

    Cordo Maximus Cordo Maximus The Arches Close of the columns More of the columns
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