Tyre Things to Do

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    by mikey_e
  • Things to Do
    by mikey_e
  • Things to Do
    by mikey_e

Most Recent Things to Do in Tyre

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    Roman Ruins

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012
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    Tyre was first founded in 2750 BCE and, like Baalbek, can boast a continued settlement through the passage of a variety of conquerors and empires, from the Phoenicians through to the modern Lebanese Republic. The greatest vestige of this long history is the collect of Roman ruins to the east of the city’s core. The ruins are not nearly as well organized as those of Baalbek (which are far from being well organized), but they are indeed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and offer the visitor some spectacular examples of Roman architecture. The site is also known as Al-Mina, for its proximity to the sea.

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    al-Mina Archaeological Site (Area 1)

    by MM212 Updated Feb 10, 2010

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    Scenic views from Area 1 (Jan 2010)
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    Located on the shores of the Egyptian Harbour on the southern end of the peninsula of Tyre, al-Mina Area 1 is the most scenic of Tyre's archaeological sites. It is graced by wonderful views of the Mediterranean shore and the mountains behind. Although this area occupies the site of the Phoenician island of Tyre (pre-Alexander the Great), the ruins that have survived are almost entirely from the Roman period. This site contains the agora/forum, an arena, the Roman baths, a palaestra, colonnaded roads (cardo and decumanus) and residential quarters. Each of these ruins is described separately further below on this page.

    The travelogue "Al-Mina Area 1: General Views" has more photos of this site, but for some of the stunning details, take a peek at the travelogue: "Al-Mina Area 1: Archeological Details."

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    Northern Corniche

    by MM212 Written Feb 10, 2010

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    Tyre's Sidon Harbour - Jan 2010
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    Beautifully landscaped and lined with palm trees, the northern Corniche of Tyre curves along the scenic Sidon Habour, named so because it faces the city of Sidon. On clear days, views extend all the way to the snow-capped Mont Liban and Mount Hermon. A stroll along this corniche with its breathtaking views is most pleasant and relaxing. With the sight of Tyrian families and lazy fisherman, it is hard to imagine that this city could have had such a turbulent history!

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    Western Corniche

    by MM212 Updated Feb 10, 2010

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    Fallen Roman Column - Jan 2010
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    At the western end of the peninsula of Tyre is a tranquil seashore road that runs from the Christian Quarter to the archaeological areas in the south of the peninsula. It is a great place for an afternoon stroll with excellent views over the Mediterranean Sea. The area and its beach have been landscaped with benches and paths for relaxation and strolling, but watch out for fallen Roman columns! There are in fact fallen red granite Roman columns around the beach. Only in Tyre!

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    Fruit & Vegetable Market

    by MM212 Updated Jan 18, 2010

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    Fruits
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    Located on the northern side of the peninsula of Tyre, facing the Sidon Harbour, is the covered Fruit & Vegetable Market of Tyre. It is the place to mix with the locals who are here to shop for fresh produce just off the farms of the fertile plains around Tyre. It is an animated market and a walk through it could be intriguing when in Tyre. There is also a section with butchers and bakers.

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    Archaeologically Speaking...

    by MM212 Updated Jan 18, 2010

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    Just another Corinthian capital among the ruins

    Phoenician Tyre was built on an island offshore, a positions that contributed significantly to its defensive strength. During the siege of Tyre by Alexander the Great, the Macedonian leader constructed a causeway to allow his army to finally conquer the impenetrable city in 332 BC. This causeway became permanent and over time allowed sedimentation to turn the island into a peninsula adjoined to the mainland. If we were to dig underneath the buildings of Tyre, we would likely find traces of the causeway he built (actually, Rue Heram is thought to trace its path). As one would expect, Tyre is rich in archaeological ruins, but much more would be discovered if one were able to excavate below every standing structure. Fortunately, enough is already exposed for us to appreciate the grandeur the city once enjoyed. There are four sites in Tyre with ancient ruins: al-Mina (Areas 1 and 2), al-Bass (Area 3), and a fourth site, of lesser interest, which I will designate as "al-Mina Area 4". Al-Mina Areas 1 and 2, and Area 4, are all located where the island of Tyre originally was (mina = port), but Al-Bass, the largest of the four, is located on the mainland further east. Only al-Mina (Area 1) and al-Bass (Area 3) are usually open to visitors (for a fee), while al-Mina Area 2 is accessible at no charge if the gate happens to be open. The small Area 4 is fenced off, but visible from the street. My tips below describe each area and its structures in more details.

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    The Old City

    by MM212 Updated Jan 18, 2010

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    Medieval arches on antique columns - Jan 2010
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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 likes 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".

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    The Port of Tyre

    by MM212 Updated Jan 18, 2010

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    Ancient Port of Tyre - January 2010
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    Hard to believe, but it is from this tranquil fishing port that Phoenician Tyre ruled the Mediterranean Sea around 950 BC. At the time, Tyre was still an island, but since Alexander the Great's conquest in 332 BC, the island has been a peninsula connected to the mainland. Nowadays, the port hosts nothing but small wooden fishing boats, and the area around it is a pleasant place for a stroll and a meal. On a clear day, views extend all the way to Mount Lebanon and Mount Hermon, which are covered in snow in the cooler months. Immediately to the south of the port is old city of Tyre, while to the west is the Christian Quarter.

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    Cathédrale de la Sainte-Croix

    by MM212 Updated Jan 18, 2010

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    Crusader Cathedral of the Holy Cross - Jan 2010
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    Immense red granite pillars from the Crusader Cathedral of the Holy Cross tower above Archaeological Area 2. The foundation walls of the cathedral, showing triple naves and apse, are also clearly discernible. The size of this Cathedral is a testament to the importance of Tyre under the Crusaders, who built their cathedral soon after they occupied the city in 1124 AD. For its construction, they utilised the foundations, building stones and columns from a pre-existing 6th century Byzantine church, which in turn had been built using the Romans ruins on site. Archaeologists believe this was the location of the Great Temple of Melkart/Hercules. The large red granite columns could only have belonged to the temple, which was known for its grandeur. When the Mamlukes expelled the Crusaders in 1291 AD, the church and much of the city were destroyed to prevent their return.

    Note: these ruins are located in al-Mina Archaeological Area 2, which is typically closed to the public, but visible from the street. When I visited in January 2010, the gate was open and locals and tourists were entering the site freely.

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    Marble & Mosaic Floors of al-Bass Area 3

    by MM212 Updated Jan 17, 2010

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    Mosaic floor - Jan 2010
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    Al-Bass Archeological Area 3 is rich in mosaic and marble floors from the Roman and Byzantine periods. Many of these floors were part of burial chambers in the Necropolis, but others possibly belonged to Byzantine chapels. Attached are a couple of examples. For more photos, take a look at the travelogue: "Marble & Mosaic Floors of al-Bass Area 3."

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    Mosaics of a Byzantine Church

    by MM212 Updated Jan 17, 2010

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    Byzantine-period mosaics - Mar 2005

    This very well-preserved mosaic floor appears to belong to a Byzantine-period church. It is located in al-Mina Archeological Area 1 on the left hand side as one enters the site. It seems to have been moved to its present location for display, but was originally located elsewhere, probably above some of the excavated ruins in this site. The floor has a Greek inscription in the centre, while the repetitive patterns include a small cross in the middle, which likely indicates that this was the floor of a church, built in the Romano-Byzantine period.

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    The Necropolis

    by MM212 Updated Jan 17, 2010

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    Entrance to the Necropolis - March 2005
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    As was typical in Roman cities, the Necropolis of Tyre was located just outside the city limits, on both sides of the long road leading to the Monumental Arch. This particular necropolis is vast, and served as a burial ground during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods, from the 2nd century BC to the 6th century AD. It contains an incredibly large number of tombs covering the entire period, though most date from the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. The site was excavated in the 1960's to reveal the abundance of marble and stone sarcophagi, many of which were decorated with beautiful carvings and Greek inscriptions. Within the necropolis are the ruins of many structures, with stunning mosaics and marble floors, probably belonging to elaborate burial chambers. Lovers of archeological ruins will take great pleasure in walking around the tombs and the burial chambers and examining every detail. The Necropolis is located at al-Bass Archeological Area 3, immediately past the ticket booth as one enters the site. Its entrance is marked by an arch which was probably added during a later period.

    For more photos the Necropolis and its sarcophagi, check out the travelogue: "Sarcophagi of the Roman Necropolis."

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    Decumanus Maximus

    by MM212 Updated Jan 17, 2010

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    Tyre's Decumanus Maximus - Jan 2010
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    Tyre's main east-west thoroughfare, the magnificent Decumanus Maximus led from the Monumental Arch to the heart of Roman Tyre in the peninsula. The important road was paved with stones, which have survived remarkably intact, and as was customary in the Roman East, it was bordered on either side with impressive colonnaded porticoes, in which were probably many shops and stalls selling various merchandise. At its western end, the Decumanus intersected with the Cardo Maximus, now seen in al-Mina Area 1. Although the stone paving has survived and stretches beyond what the eye can see, the colonnaded porticoes have not fare well over the centuries. We are left with only a small extant section, located near the Monumental Arch in al-Bass Archaeological Area 3, to help us visualise it in its full glory. West of this area, the street "Rue Heram" traces the path of the Decumanus Maximus all the way to the Old City and likely conceals the remains of this colonnade underneath it.

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    Monumental Arch

    by MM212 Updated Jan 17, 2010

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    Monumental Arch of Tyre - March 2005
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    Symbol of Roman Tyre, this magnificent Monumental Arch is the best-preserved structure from the city's Roman period. It was built in the 2nd century AD, the golden age under the Romans, as the main entrance into the city. It separated the Necropolis to the east from the grand colonnaded Decumanus Maximus that led west directly to centre of Tyre on the peninsula. The 20-metre Monumental Arch is located in al-Bass Archelogical Site (Area 3).

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    Roman Aqueduct (al-Bass Site)

    by MM212 Updated Jan 17, 2010

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    Ruins of the Roman Aqueduct - Jan 2010
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    The Roman Aqueduct of Tyre transported water from its sources further inland all the way to the peninsula, and ran parallel to the Decumanus Maximus. A good section of the Aqueduct has survived in al-Bass Archaeological Area 3, near the Monumental Arch. Although this section is mostly a ruin, it is said that as late as the 19th century, much of the Aqueduct had survived intact. Like the surrounding structures, the Aqueduct is thought to have been built around the 2nd century AD.

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