Capital of southern Lebanon, Tire was originally an island, which became silted up following the construction of a dike by Alexander the Great to allow it to be taken – it was then that it entered its period Hellenic then Roman, of which one can only admire the vestiges. As for the Phoenician remains, they are rarer, apart from those of the part submerged in the sea that cannot be easily visited and a few acres of a wall that we have not been able to find, but nevertheless, its Phoenician history deserves let us dwell on it. It is indeed one of the oldest Phoenician localities; some believe that the human presence dates from 2700 BC. It appears in the turbulent chronicles of Humanity.
After having been successively occupied by various invaders from our coasts, Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians etc …, Tire will retain a certain independence, fiercely defended besides against each of its invaders, beating money and going so far as to found different colonies, including the well-known Carthage via a fraticide struggle between the King of Tire Pygmalion and her sister Elissa and who will go so far as to compete with and threaten Rome during the so-called Punic wars .
Tire will also make a lasting mark on our modern history with a rather remarkable presence in the Old Testament – The King of Tire Hiram 1st having commissioned his artisans to build the so-called Solomon temple in Jerusalem – or the most controversial Jesabel but also the Gospels with one of the journeys of Jesus Christ, and the Epistles, with Saint Paul who will found there one of the first Churches outside the Holy Land and a council will take place there even in 355 AD.
The Christian presence remains strong and marked in the part known as the old town with its narrow streets and where the churches of the region are also today. Community of fishermen mainly, their working tools, frail wooden boats, motorized since the 1960s, bear names like Marguerite, Josephine, Violette, Éliane …
The old town is in fact framed by the 2 Egyptian and Sidonian ports, the only remaining Sidonian, who is the main working tool of this community today, with an extraordinary attachment to this land and its sacrifices. We can in particular notice the portrait of one of the soldiers who fell in Nahr Bared in 2007 – the martyr sergeant Robert Elias el-Achi – above the front of a local café – which belongs to his family – while we, in the other regions quickly bury their memories.
The Al Fanar restaurant is located just at the southern tip of the city of Tire, set back from the Lighthouse, in a magical setting and at the foot of what used to be the Egyptian port of Tire. It has a beach not of sand but of small stones which allow its customers to access a kind of swimming pool naturally dug in the rocks. The turquoise water is pleasant, the Mediterranean current being South – North, the sea not being loaded with the usual waste from other Lebanese regions and the Israeli authorities, for their part, cleaning their shores. A lesson for us …
This hostel – originally a traditional Lebanese house of the Salha family – is made up of 10 rooms catering mainly to a European clientele – a change from the usual Arab invasion elsewhere. The rest of the clientele is local, that of Lebanese couples seeking the calm of a beach lulled by the sound of the waves and not that of techno music like others in Jbeil … The staff are pleasant in the sense that they are not always present to watch you to extract money but on the contrary, their discretion honors them! Note the presence of a cat with a bell who will not hesitate to steal a few fish heads from you by stroking – and surprisingly – the tips of your feet.
We therefore headed towards the Roman necropolis, bordered by a royal road including a superb triumphal arch which until recently appeared on the 50 LL banknotes and the Roman hippodrome of which only a few sections remain. These ruins are located near a Palestinian camp.
The little pleasures
Have a coffee with the fishermen at the port, chat with the last craftsmen assembling a boat, have a meal on a terrace facing a CLEAN turquoise sea.
Go see the turtle beach, one of the last beaches in Lebanon, the others having been concreted.
Some additional links and information:
Tire has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1984. We can find on the UNESCO site lots of information about it.