Tripoli in Lebanon

Monday, 15 July 2019 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage

Tripoli Souk © Bertramz/cc-by-sa-3.0

Tripoli Souk © Bertramz/cc-by-sa-3.0

Tripoli is the largest city in northern Lebanon and the second-largest city in the country. Situated 85 kilometers (53 miles) north of the capital Beirut, it is the capital of the North Governorate and the Tripoli District. Tripoli overlooks the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and it is the northernmost seaport in Lebanon. It holds a string of four small islands offshore, and they are also the only islands in Lebanon. The Palm Islands were declared a protected area because of their status of haven for endangered loggerhead turtles, rare monk seals and migratory birds.

Even though the history of Tripoli dates back at least to the 14th century BCE, the city is famous for having the largest Crusader fortress in Lebanon (the Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles), and it has the second largest amount of Mamluk architectural heritage on earth (behind Cairo).

With the formation of Lebanon and the 1948 breakup of the Syrian-Lebanese customs union, Tripoli, once on par in economic and commercial importance to Beirut, was cut off from its traditional trade relations with the Syrian hinterland and therefore declined in relative prosperity. Tripoli borders the city of El Mina, the port of the Tripoli District, which it is geographically conjoined with to form the greater Tripoli conurbation.

The Clock tower is one of the most iconic monuments in Tripoli. The tower is located in Al-Tell square, and was constructed by the Ottomans as a gift to the city of Tripoli. The Clock tower recently underwent a complete renovation in 1992 with personal funding from the honorary Turkish consul of Northern Lebanon, Sobhi Akkari, and the second at February 2016 as a gift from the Turkish prime minister in cooperation with the Committee of Antiquities and Heritage in the municipality of Tripoli, and now the clock tower is again operational. “Al Manshieh” which is one of the oldest parks in Tripoli, is located next to the clock tower. This clock tower was erected in 1906 to celebrate the 30th year of Abdulhamid II of the Ottoman Empire, like the Jaffa Clock Tower and many others throughout the Empire.

Al-Tell Clock Tower © Tripolious/cc-by-sa-3.0 Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles © Peripitus/cc-by-sa-3.0 Mansouri Great Mosque © Heretiq/cc-by-sa-2.5 Soap Khan © Clemens Schmillen/cc-by-sa-4.0 Tripoli Souk © Bertramz/cc-by-sa-3.0 Taynal Mosque © Ankara/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles © Peripitus/cc-by-sa-3.0
When Tripoli was visited by Ibn Batutah in 1355, he described the newly founded Mamluk city. “Traversed by water-channels and full of gardens”, he writes, “the houses are newly built. The sea lies two leagues distant, and the ruins of the old town are seen on the sea-shore. It was taken by the Franks, but al-Malik ath-Tháhir (Qala’un) retook it from them, and then laid the place in ruins and built the present town. There are fine baths here.” Indeed, the hammams built in Tripoli by the early Mamluk governors were splendid edifices and many of them are still present until today. Some of the more known are: Abed, Izz El-Din, Hajeb, Jadid and An-Nouri, built 1333 by the Mamluk governor Nur El-Din, is located in the vicinity of the Grand Mosque.

Oscar Niemeyer was commissioned to design the International Fairgrounds of Tripoli in 1963, but in 1975, Lebanon’s civil war interrupted construction of this modernist landmark. The 10,000 hectare site and its 15 buildings remain today, incomplete concrete structures in our contemporary, labyrinthine times.

Tripoli has many offshore islands. The largest is called today the “Island of Palm Trees” by some, and by others “Rabbits’ Island”. This is the largest of the islands with an area of 20 hectares (49 acres). The name “Araneb” or Rabbits comes from the great numbers of rabbits that were grown on the island during the time of the French mandate early in the 20th century. It is now a nature reserve for green turtles, rare birds and rabbits. Declared as a protected area by UNESCO in 1992, camping, fire building or other depredation is forbidden. In addition to its scenic landscape, the Palm Island is also a cultural heritage site. Evidence for human occupation, dated back to the Crusader period, was uncovered during 1973 excavations by the General Directorate of Antiquities. The Bakar Islands, locally known as Abdulwahab Island, was leased to Adel & Khiereddine Abdulwahab as a shipyard, since the Ottoman rule and till this day a well known ship and marine contractor. It was also known as St Thomas Island during the Crusades. It is the closest to the shore and can be accessed via a bridge that was built in 1998. The Bellan Island’s name comes from a plant found on the island and used to make brooms. Some people claim that the name comes from the word “blue whale” (Baleine in French) that appeared next to the island in early 20th century. Fanar (Lantern) Island is 1,600 meters (5,200 ft) long and is the home of a light-house built during the 1960s.

Read more on lebanon.com – Tripoli, Wikitravel Tripoli, Wikivoyage Tripoli and Wikipedia Tripoli (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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