Tyre, mentioned often in Bible, is approximately 88 kilometers south of Beirut. It is purported to be the first commercial metropolis of the world, when ships laden with goods such as glass, purple dye and cedar wood plied the Mediterranean bringing prosperity to its people.
It was governed and then destroyed by so many rulers including King Hiram in the 10th century, when the city experienced its most prosperous period. This caused jealousy amongst other great conquerors of the time including Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, who besieged Tyre for 13 years, after which it was the turn of Alexander the Great, who took only seven months to destroy and burn the city.
On what was originally the island (the city was initially made up of two parts – the coastal city and some small islands) is a Roman city with streets paved in mosaics and bordered by columned porticoes, whilst a short distance away are the remains of what was an imposing cathedral built by the Crusaders.
Within the ruins there is a Roman road dominated by a triumphal arch taking you into an immense Roman hippodrome nearly 500 meters long. Here extends an enormous necropolis with many impressive sarcophagi, amazingly decorated.
In 1979 UNESCO made Tyre a World Heritage City.
The best-known episode in the history of Tyre was its resistance to the army of the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great, who took it after a seven-month siege in 332. He completely destroyed the mainland portion of the town and used its rubble to build an immense causeway (some 2,600 feet [800 metres] long and 600–900 feet [180–270 metres] wide) to gain access to the island section.
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