Ancient Phoenician city, Tyre was named after after the rocky formation/structure on which the town was originally built. Tyre means “rock”, adjective for Tyre is Tyrian, therefore its inhabitants are called Tyrians.
Tyre was a Phoenician island city founded around the third millennium BC and known as Queen of the Seas.
In the 10th century BC, King of Tyre, Ahiram, joined two peninsulas by landfill and extended the city further by reclaiming a considerable area from the sea and built two ports and a temple to Melkart, the city's God.
In history it grew wealthy from its far-reaching Phoenician colonies and its industries of purple-dyed textiles in the first millennium BC. And the 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 was 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 Tyre 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 breaches the fortifications.
It is said that the public baths 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 great important monuments in the city, including an aqueduct, a triumphal arch and the largest hippodrome in antiquity.
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 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 jewerly of gold and silver.
Thanks to Tyre's strong fortifications it was able to resist to onslaught of the Crusaders until 1124. After about 180 years of Crusader rule, the Mamlukes retook the city in 1291, and then it passed on to the Ottomans at the start of the 16th century.
With the end of the World War I Tyre was integrated into the new nation of Lebanon.
The geographical location:
Tyre is a peninsula which lies on the eastern bank of the Mediterranean coast, 35km south of Sidon and 83 km South of Beirut.
Its geographical coordinates are 33° 16' 16" North, 35° 11' 47" East.
The town on the mainland was situated in a narrow coastal plain extending from the Ras el-`Abyad, on the South to Sarepta on the North, a distance of about 20 miles. It was fertile and well watered, the river Leontes (Litany) known as Kassimiyya river in that area, passing through it to the sea, about 5 miles N. of Tyre, and the copious fountain of Ras el-`Ain, 3 miles to the South, furnishing an abundant supply both for the city and the gardens.
Along with the French mandate, Tyre was divided into nine quarters, named after their inahibatants’ confessions or even after apparent geographical features; the Catholic Quarter, the Orthodox Quarter, the Maronite Quarter, Manara (lighthouse) Quarter, Masarwi (Egyptians) Quarter, Jourah Quarter, Husseiniyyah Quarter, Ras el-Ain and Basateen Quarter, Al-Jamee (Mosque) Quarter, and Shebriha Quarter.
Nevertheless, Tyrians from different sects and confessions, long lived together in coexistence and harmony.
The most important recent archaeological was found in a Phoenician cemetery from the first millennium B.C. In 1991, during clandestine excavations, that was the first cemetery of its kind found in Lebanon. Funerary jars, inscribed steles and jewelry
were among the objects retrieved from the site.
Social and archeological situation
Tyre never gasped in prosperity and development since the Independence era. It was yet left to its wilderness due to political and feudal regimes taking over the city.
The first municipality in Tyre was founded in 1920 and headed by Ismail Yehia Khalil. After his demission, his successor Sayyed Hussein Safi el-Din presided over the municipal council till 1926. It was later headed respectively by Toufic Halawi, and Muhammad Assaad Abu Khalil (1929), Shafic Arslan, Jean Aziz, Salah Lababidi, Anis Mouawad, Emil Bustany, and Halim Fayyad.
In 1961, the state appointed a municipal council headed by Mounir Arab. Later in 1963, Tyre municipal council was elected, and is currently headed by Hussein Kabalan.
Following the Israeli withdrawal in 1985, the city’s roads, energy and water sectors, and the government hospital were developed, and schools were established.
After the re-election in 2005 of the 1998 twenty-one-member municipal council, Tyre was marked with a spectrum of developmental and architectural evolutions on top of which the cultural project that was a turning point in the City’s outside and inside structure.
This project came under the framework of a certain strategy aiming at rehabilitating the City’s characteristics so it would regain its role as the sole City of Mount Aamel.
This project is also divided into two phases; the first was the reconstruction plan that had been completed and embodied in the infrastructure, roads, sidewalks, and cultural sites rehabilitation process.
As for the second phase it consists of establishing gardens, car parking spaces, public fields, commercial market, water refinery plant, as well as a trade port for fishers.
It is almost impossible to describe or cite Tyre’s history in few words; therefore it will remain the finest Tourism City.