Sour (Lebanese French)
Tyre Public Beach
|• City||4 km2 (2 sq mi)|
|• Metro||17 km2 (7 sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
|Designated||1984 (8th session)|
Tyre (Arabic: صور Ṣūr), is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, though in medieval times for some centuries by just a tiny population. It was one of the earliest Phoenician metropolises and the legendary birthplace of Europa, her brothers Cadmus and Phoenix, as well as Carthage's founder Dido (Elissa). The city has a number of ancient sites, including its Roman Hippodrome, which was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1979.
Today Tyre is the fifth largest city in Lebanon after Beirut, Tripoli, Aley and Sidon, It is a district capital in the South Governorate. There were approximately 200,000 inhabitants in the Tyre urban area in 2016, including many refugees.
The present city of Tyre covers a large part of the original island and has expanded onto and covers most of the causeway, which had increased greatly in width over the centuries because of extensive silt depositions on either side. The part of the original island not covered by the modern city of Tyre is mostly of an archaeological site showcasing remains of the city from ancient times.
The neighbouring villages of Burj El Shimali to the East and the refugee camp of Rashidie on the Southern shore are not officially part of Tyre city, but have in fact merged to one urban Greater Tyre over the past decades.
Early names of Tyre include Akkadian Ṣurru, Phoenician Ṣūr (𐤑𐤓), and Hebrew Tzór (צוֹר). In Semitic languages, the name of the city means "rock" after the rocky formation on which the town was originally built. The official name in modern Arabic is Ṣūr (صور).
The predominant form in Classical Greek was Týros (Τύρος), which was first seen in the works of Herotodus but may have been adopted considerably earlier. It gave rise to Latin Tyrus, which entered English during the Middle English period as Tyre. The demonym for Tyre is Tyrian, and the inhabitants are Tyrians.
The original island city had two harbours, one on the south side and the other on the north side of the island. It was the two harbours that enabled Tyre to gain the maritime prominence that it did; the harbour on the north side of the island was, in fact, one of the best harbours on the eastern end of the Mediterranean. The harbour on the south side has silted over, but the harbour on the north side is still in use. In ancient times, the island-city was heavily fortified.
Ushu (later called Palaetyrus, meaning "Old Tyre," by the ancient Greeks) was actually more like a line of suburbs than any one city and was used primarily as a source of water and timber for the main island city.
Josephus records that the two fought against each other on occasion, but most of the time, they supported one another because they both benefited from the island city's wealth from maritime trade and the mainland area's source of timber, water and burial grounds.
Herodotus, who visited Tyre around 450 B.C., wrote that according to the priests there the city was founded around 2750 BC as a walled place upon the mainland, now known as Paleotyre (Old Tyre). Archaeological evidence has corroborated this timing. Excavations have also found that there had already been some settlements around 2900 B.C., but that they were abandoned. According to the Roman historian Justin, the original founders arrived from the nearby Northern city of Sidon / Saida in the quest to establish a new harbour.
In Greek mythology, the Tyrian princess Europa was abducted by Zeus in the form of a bull to Crete, where she gave birth to Minos. The continent Europe is named after her. According to the legend, her brother Cadmus went to search for her in vain, but instead became the founder and king of the Greek city of Thebes, who also introduced the Phoenician alphabet to the Hellenic world. Europa's and Cadmus' brother Phoenix became the eponym of Phoenicia.
The first clear accounts of the city are given by the ten Amarna letters dated 1350 BC from the mayor, Abimilku, written to Akenaten. The subject is often water, wood and the Habiru overtaking the countryside of the mainland and how that affected the island-city. 
While the city was originally called Melkart after the city-god, the name Tyre appears on monuments as early as 1300 BC. Philo of Byblos (in Eusebius) quotes the antiquarian authority Sanchuniathon as stating that it was first occupied by Hypsuranius. Sanchuniathon's work is said to be dedicated to "Abibalus king of Berytus"—possibly the Abibaal, who became the Phoenician king of Tyre towards the end of the 2nd millenium BC.
In the 12th century BC, Egypt's pharaohs gradually lost control over the area.
Hiram I, Abibaal's son, ascended the throne in 969 B.C. and led the city-state to a new level of prosperity. Locally, Hiram expanded the urban territory by projects to connect the main island with a number of small rocky islands. Beyond the borders of his kindgdom, he forged particularly close relations with the Hebrew kings David and Solomon. Reportedly, Hiram sent cedar wood and skilled workers who helped in the construction of the great Temple in Jerusalem. This connection helped to develop trade with Arabia, and North and East Africa and "such was Hiram's success that the Mediterranean Sea became known as 'the Tyrian Sea".
Commerce from throughout ancient world was gathered into the warehouses of Tyre, which thanks to its fortifications offered protection for valuable goods in storage or transit:
Tyrian merchants were the first who ventured to navigate the Mediterranean waters; and they founded their colonies on the coasts and neighbouring islands of the Aegean Sea, in Greece, on the northern coast of Africa, at Carthage and other places, in Sicily and Corsica, in Spain at Tartessus and even beyond the pillars of Hercules at Gadeira (Cádiz).
After Hiram's reign of 34 years and bloody succession fights, Tyre remained close to the Israelites, but its kings started paying tribute to the Assyrians. Thus, Tyre remained one of the more powerful cities in Phoenicia. One of its kings, the priest Ithobaal (887–856 BC), ruled Phoenicia as far north as Beirut, and part of Cyprus. According to legend, the Northern African city of Carthage was founded in 814 B.C. by Tyre's Princess Elissa (born around 839 BC), also known as Dido, after a failed coup d'etat when she sailed with a fleet of ships to North Africa.
The collection of maritime merchant-republic city-states constituting Phoenicia came to be characterized by outsiders and the Phoenicians as Sidonia or Tyria. Phoenicians and Canaanites alike were called Sidonians or Tyrians, as one Phoenician city came to prominence after another.
The city of Tyre was particularly known for the production of a rare and extraordinarily expensive sort of purple dye, which was famous for its beauty and lightfast qualities. It was produced from the Murex trunculus and Murex brandaris shellfishes, known as Tyrian purple. The colour was, in ancient cultures, reserved for the use of royalty or at least the nobility:
"Tyrians brought their methods in the purple dye industry near to perfection. Their excellent technique of extraction and blending of dyes is the reason why Tyrian purple was so esteemed in the ancient world."
However, the ancient author Strabo, who visited Tyre himself, recorded that the dye industry polluted the air so much that its stench made his stay in the city very unpleasant. According to some experts, some 8.000 Murex had to be crushed in order to extract one gram of the dye.
In the course of the 9th century BC, the Assyrian kings established sovereignty over Phoenicia, but it seems that Tyre only made a nominal subjection.
After the fall of the Assyrians in 612 BC, Tyre was controlled by the Neo-Babylonians until 586, when it once again rebelled. In reaction, Nebuchadnezzar II started a siege that went on for thirteen years and failed. However, the city instead agreed to pay a tribute and suffered economically, since its commercial activities were greatly damaged by the instability. Numismatic sources suggest that as a consequence Tyre lost grounds in its traditional rivalry with neighbouring Sidon, which gained the upper hand.
The Persians divided Phoenicia into four vassal kingdoms: Sidon, Tyre, Arwad, and Byblos. They prospered, furnishing fleets for Persian kings. However, when Cambyses II organised a war campaign against Carthage, Tyre refused to sail against its daughter city. Tyre's economy continued to rely largely on the production of purple dye from Murex shellfish, which appeared for the first time on a Silver coin of Tyre around 450-400 B.C.
According to Roman historian Justin, an insurrection of slaves took place during the Persian period, which spared only the life of one slave-master named Straton - who was then selected by the former slaves to be the new king and established a dynasty.
In 392 BC Evagoras, Prince of Cyprus, started a revolt against the Persian rule with Athenian and Egyptian support. His forces took Tyre by assault - or by secret consent of the Tyrians. However, after ten years he terminated the rebellion and Tyre once again came under Persian control. It abstained from Sidon's insurgency in 352 BC and profited commercially from the subsequent destruction of the neighbouring city.
Phoenician influence declined after the Persian period.
After his conquest of Persia, Alexander the Great moved his armies south towards Lebanon, exacting tribute from all of coastal Phoenicia's city-states. Tyre's king Azemilcus was at sea with the Persian fleet, when Alexander arrived in 332 BC at the gates and proposed to sacrifice to Heracles in the city, which was home to the most ancient temple of Heracles. However, the Tyrian government refused this and instead suggested Alexander to sacrifice at another temple of Hercales on the mainland at Old Tyre.
Angered by this rejection and the city's loyalty to Darius, Alexander started the Siege of Tyre despite its reputation as being impregnable. However, the Macedonian conqueror succeeded after seven months by demolishing the old city on the mainland and using its stones to construct a causeway to the island. The tallest siege towers ever used in the history of war were moved via this man-made land bridge to overcome the walls of the city, which was running low on supplies. As Alexander's forces moved forward towards linking the fortified island with the mainland, the Tyrians evacuated their old men, women, and children to Carthage.
Altogether some eight thousand Tyrians were killed during the siege, while Alexander's troops suffered only about four hundred casualties. After Alexander's victory he granted pardon to King Azemilcus and the chief magistrates. Yet according to Arrian, approximately 30,000 citizens of Tyre were sold into slavery.
After Alexander's death in 323 BC, his empire was divided and Phoenicia given to Laomedon of Mytilene. Yet, Ptolemy of Egypt soon annexed the region to his territory and held it until 315 BC. In that year, Alexander's former general Antigonus began his own siege of Tyre. The city had recovered rapidly after Alexander's conquest, but was still taken a year later. Antigonus' son Demetrius ruled Phoenicia until 287 BC, when it once again passed over to Ptolemy. It remained under the control of his successors for almost seventy years, until the Seleucids under Antiochus III invaded Phoenicia.
Despite those renewed devastations, Tyre regained its standing under Alexander's successors and as a privilege continued to mint its own silver coins, though some of the trade in the Eastern Mediterranean diverted to Alexandria. 
"Tyre rapidly became Hellenized. Festivals in the Greek manner with offering of sacrifices, gymnastic contests, pageants and processions became part of the life of Tyre."
In 126 BC, Tyre regained its independence from the fading Seleucid Empire.
Tyre was allowed to keep much of its independence, as a "civitas foederata", when the area of "Syria" became a Roman province in 64 BC. A decree found at Tyre infers that Marcus Aemilius Scaurus - Pompey's deputy in Syria - played the key role in granting Tyre the privileged status of remaining a free city. Scaurus did apparently so "against a certain payment".
Tyre continued to maintain much of its commercial importance until the Imperial era. Apart from purple dye, the production of linen was a main industry in the city. Its geographical location made Tyre the "natural" port of Damascus, to which it was linked through a road during the Roman period.
The Tyrians, or "people of Tyre" during the Roman period, extended their areas of hegemony over the adjoining regions, such as in northern Palestine region, settling in cities such as Kedesh, Mount Carmel and north of Baca.
It is stated in the New Testament that Jesus visited the region of Tyre. Some sources tell that he drank water with John sitting on a rock by the spring of Ain Sur (Source of Tyre), which is also known as Ain Hiram, named after the Phoenician king. According to the bible, Jesus healed a Gentile (Matthew 15:21; Mark 7:24) and from this region many came forth to hear him preaching (Mark 3:8; Gospel of Luke 6:17, Matthew 11:21–23). Apparently, some of them followed hailed from Tyre.
A congregation was founded here soon after the death of St. Stephen. Paul the Apostle, on his return from his third missionary journey, spent a week in conversation with the disciples there. According to Irenaeus of Lyon in On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis, the female companion of Simon Magus came from here.
When in 193 AD Septimius Severus and Pescennius Niger competed against each other for the throne of Rome, Tyre sided with Severus, who was born in Tyre's former colony Leptis Magna. Niger's troops in retaliation looted Tyre and killed many of its inhabitants. Yet after the defeat of his rival, Severus rewarded Tyre's loyalty with the status of a Colony, which enabled the city to regain some of its wealth.
The famous "Arch of Hadrian" and one of the largest hippodromes in the world (480m long and 160m wide) were constructed during the Roman empire. The amphitheater for the horse-racetrack could host some 30.000 spectators. During the third century A.D. the Heraclia games - dedicated to Hercales - were held there every four years. An aqueduct of about 5 km length was built to supply the city with water from the Ras Al Ain basins in the South.
Faced with the growth of christianity in the third century, the Roman authorities supported paganism and encouraged the practise of Tyre's ancient cults, especially the worshipping of Melkart. When Emperor Decius ordered a general prosecution of Christians in 250-251 AD, followers of Jesus in Tyre suffered as well. According to the ancient bishop and historian Eusebius, the Christian scholar Origen died in Tyre around 253 AD due to injuries from torture.
In the wake of the Diocletianic Persecution as the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, followers of Jesus in Tyre were harshly affected as well. According to religious accounts, one of the most prominent martyrs was Saint Christina, the daughter of the city's governor, who was executed around 300 A.D., after her own father had her tortured. In 304 A.D., some 500 Christians were reportedly persecuted, tortured and killed in Tyre.
However, less than a decade later "the young, and very rich" Bishop Paulinus had a basilica constructed upon the ruins of a demolished church, which in turn had probably been built upon the ruins of the ancient Temple of Melqart. Reportedly, Origen was buried behind the altar. In 315 A.D., just two years after the Edict of Milan about the benevolent treatment of Christians, the Cathedral was inaugurated by Bishop Eusebius, who recorded his speech and thus a detailed account of the site in his writings. Not only is this considered the oldest description of a Christian church, but moreover:
In 395 Tyre became part of the Byzantine Empire. Flourishing silk, glass and purple-dyeing industries allowed the city to prosper during this period.
The necropolis on mainland Tyre with more than three hundred sarcophagi from the Roman and Byzantine periods is one of the largest in the world. A main road of some 400m length and 4,5m width paved with limestone was constructed during the Byzantine times. Closeby two churches with marble decorations were built in the 5th and 6th century A.D. respectively.
Construction in ancient Tyre reached its zenith in the 6th century A.D. However, a series of earthquakes shattered the city in that century and left it diminished. On the Southern part of the peninsula the Egyptian harbour and parts of the suburb were submerged in the sea. On the mainland a heavy earthquake destroyed the Great Triumphal Arch in 551 A.D.
The city remained under Byzantine control until it was captured by the Sassanian shah Khosrow II at the trun from the 6th to the 7th century A.D., then again until the Muslim conquest of the Levant, when in 638 it was taken by the Arab forces.
In the Revolt of Tyre (996–998), the populace of the city rose against Fatimid rule, led by an ordinary sailor named 'Allaqa - but were brutally suppressed in May 998. In 1086 it fell into the hands of the Seljuks who lost it in 1089 to the Fatimids.
Ten years later, Tyre avoided being attacked by paying tribute to the Crusaders who marched on Jerusalem. In 1111, King Baldwin I of Jerusalem laid siege on the city for almost five months, but retreated after some 2.000 of his troops had been killed.
On July 7 of 1124, in the aftermath of the First Crusade, Tyre was eventually conquered by the Christian warriors - a Frankish army on the coast and a Venetian fleet from the sea side - following a siege of five and a half months that had caused great suffering from hunger to the population.
Under its new rulers, Tyre was divided into three parts: two thirds to king Baldwin and one third to the Doge of Venice. There were also a Genoese quarter with a Jewish community, and a Pisan quarter.
In 1127, Tyre was shaken by a heavy earthquake that caused many casualties, and more earthquakes followed in 1157 and 1170.
Nevertheless, Tyre became one of the most important cities of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, booming with commercial activity, especially glassware and sugar factories. It was part of the royal domain, but there were also autonomous trading colonies there for the Italian merchant cities.
The city was the see of a Roman Catholic archbishopric, whose archbishop was a suffragan of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; its archbishops often acceded to the Patriarchate. The most notable of the Latin archbishops was the historian William of Tyre, who held the office from 1175 to 1184 while also being chancellor of the kingdom.
The Saint Mark Cathedral of Tyre was built upon on the remains of the cathedral that had been founded by archbishop Paulinus in 315 A.D. - which in turn had probably been constructed upon or at least the near the ruins of the ancient Temple of Melqart.
After the loss of Jerusalem to Saladin in 1187, many crusaders escaped to Tyre with its strong fortifications: "The refugee barons of Palestine were now crowded in the city." Saladin put on the Siege of Tyre twice but gave up on New Year's Day 1188. In the meantime, Frankish military and naval reinforcements had arrived, so that Conrad of Montferrat was able to organise an effective defense. Subsequently, Tyre's Cathedral became the traditional coronation place for the kings of Jerusalem and a venue for royal marriages.
When the German Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, also known as Frederick Barbarossa, drowned in 1190 in Asia Minor while leading an army in the Third Crusade, his bones were reportedly buried in the cathedral of Tyre.
In 1202 and 1203 more earthquakes caused severe damages in Tyre.
In the 13th century, Tyre was separated from the royal domain as the Lordship of Tyre.
In 1291, Tyre was again taken, this time by the Mamluk Sultanate's army of Al-Malik al-Ashraf. He had all fortifications demolished in order to prevent the Franks from re-entrenching. The Crusader cathedral, which had been damaged by an earthquake before, was destroyed by the conquerors as well.
The traditional pottery and glassware industry in Tyre continued its production of artful objects during the early Mamluk period. However, the purple dye industry, which had been a major source of income for the city throughout its previous history, did not get started again, since new dyes like Turkey red were cheaper.
Subsequently, Tyre lost its importance and "sank into obsurity." When the Moroccan explorer Ibn Batutah visited Tyre in 1355, he found it a mass of ruins. Many stones were taken to neighbouring cities like Sidon as building materials. Ezekiel's ancient prophecy about the destruction of Tyre was thus finally fulliflled.
The Ottoman Empire conquered the region in 1516-17. About a century later, Fakhreddine II, leader of the Mount Lebanon Emirate, attempted to revitalise Tyre: one of his projects was the construction of a residence for his brother, Prince Younes Al-Maani. It "subsequently became the property of the Franciscan fathers." The building was later used as a garrison and transformed into a Khan, "traditionally a large rectangular courtyard with a central fountain, surrounded by covered galleries". Its ruins are still standing in the centre of today's Souk marketplace area and are known as Khan Al-Ashkar, or also as Khan Sour.
However, the efforts to develop the city, including a cooperation with Florence to rebuild the harbour, came to a halt when the Ottoman rulers had Fakhreddine II executed in 1635. The English scholar Henry Maundrell visited Tyre in 1697 and found only a "few" inhabitants, who subsisted upon fishing.
At the turn of the 17th to the 18th century, Tyre was - at least nominally - at the center of the schism within the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch: its archbishop of Tyre - Euthymios Saif - had been working on regaining communion with the Holy See in Rome at least since 1683. In 1701, by secret decree he was appointed by the Congretation Propaganda Fide to be the Apostolic Administrator of the Melkites. In 1724, one year after Saifi's death, his nephew and student Seraphim Tanas was elected as Patriarch Cyril VI of Antioch. He quickly affirmed the union with Rome and thereby the separation from the Greek Orthodox Church. However, only a handful of Christian families lived in Tyre at the time. Church services were held in the ruins of Saint Thomas church near the remains of the Crusaders Cathedral.
Around 1750, Tyre's governor Sheikh Abbas Ben Mohamad Al-Nassar initiated a number of construction projects in order to attract new inhabitants to the almost deserted town. Amongst these development projects was a mosque, which is nowadays known as the Old Mosque, the Serail as his own headquarters at the Northern port, and the Al Mobarakee Tower, which is the only military tower still existing today.
In 1752, construction of the Melkite cathedral of Saint Thomas was started thanks to donation from a rich merchant, George Mashakka - also spelled Jirjis MIshaqa - in a place that had already housed a church during the Crusader period in the 12th century. The tobacco trader had been persuaded by governor Nassar to move from Sidon to Tyre. Numerous Greek Catholic families followed him there. Mashakka also contributed greatly to the construction of the mosque.
The mid-19th century saw more of a renaissance of Christianity in Tyre: In 1850, the Maronite cathedral of "Our Lady of the Seas" was constructed near the modern harbour on the foundations of an ancient church. In subsequent years, the Greek-Orthodox church of Saint Thomas was consecrated nearby, and the Latin-Catholic church of the Holy Land was established by the Franciscan order.
In 1874, the Bavarian historian and politician Johann Nepomuk Sepp led a mission to Tyre to search for the bones of Frederick Barbarossa. The expedition had the approval of Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire, and openly pursued ambitions to establish a German colony. While Sepp and his team failed to discover Barbarossa's remains, they did excavate the ruins of the Crusader cathedral and took a number of archaeological findings to Berlin where they were exhibited. For their excavations, Sepp and his team had some 120 people evicted, though with some compensation, with the support of local authorities.
According to Sepp, Tyre had some 5,000 inhabitants in 1874.
In 1882, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition founded a school at the Western sea side of the Christian quarter.
In the 1880s, many Lebanese from Tyre emigrated to West Africa in order to escape poverty. The city thereafter became known as "Little West Africa". In Senegal, most immigrants originated from Tyre. Hence, one of its main promenades is called "Avenue du Senegal".
In 1903, excavations were resumed by the Greek archaeologist Theodore Makridi, curator of the Imperial Museum at Constantinople. Important findings like fragments of marble sarcophagi were sent to the Ottoman capital.
During the First World War, French soldiers used the historical garrison building of Khan Al-Ashkar as a base.
When in 1920 violent clashes took place in the Jabal Amel area between armed Shia and Maronite groups, a French colonial army defeated the Shia forces, while French warplanes and artillery bombarded Tyre and other towns in the area. In September 1920, the French rulers proclaimed the new State of Greater Lebanon with Tyre and the Jabal Amel as the Southern part of the Mandate. In the same year, the first municipality was founded, which was headed by Ismail Yehia Khalil.
In 1921, a survey of Tyre was undertaken by a French team under the leadership of Denyse Le Lasseur.
During the 1920s, emigration from Tyre via Marseille to Western Africa reached a peak as Southern Lebanese were driven out by poverty again, until the French colonial rulers imposed stricter controls on immigration.
The most defining character for the development of Tyre itself in that first half of the 20th century became the Shi'a Twelver Islamic scholar Sayyid Abdel Hussein Sharafeddine who has widely been considered a social reformer and "activist". After World War I, he became one of the leaders in the Jabal Amel region of Southern Lebanon to push for unity within a Greater Syria. Sharafeddine succeeded Khalil as head of the municipal council until 1926.
In 1928, the first Shi'a mosque in Tyre was constructed, using lcoal traditional architecture and centered around two Roman granite columns. It was named Abdel Hussein Mosque after Sharafeddine.
Another French archaelogical mission took place between 1934 and 1936 that included aerial surveys and diving expeditions. It was led by the Jesuit missionary Antoine Poidebard, a pioneer of aerial archaeology.
In 1936, the French colonial authorities set up a camp for Armenian refugees in Rashidieh on the coast, five kilometres south of Tyre city. One year later, another one was constructed in the El Bass (El Buss) area of Tyre.
Also in 1937, Imam Sharafeddine founded a primary school for girls in 1937, the first primary school in Southern Lebanon altogether. It soon expanded, not least thanks to donations from merchants who had emigrated from Tyre to Western Africa.
After the start of the Second World War, French troops once again used the historical garisson building of Khan Al-Ashkar as a base. When in 1940 French soldiers dug out an anti-tank trench at Tyre on the road leading South, they discovered a marble sarcophagus from the first or second century AD, which is exhibited at the National Museum in Beirut.
In 1946, Jafariya School was upgraded to be a Secondary School, the first in Southern Lebanon. Shia Imam Sharafeddine appointed as its founding director George Kenaan, a Lebanese Christian.
When the state of Israel was declared in 1948, Tyre's position next to the closed border on the one hand side further marginalised the city, "which was already sidelined by Beirut and Sidon."
At the same time, with the 1948 Palestinian exodus - also known as the Nakba - thousands of Palestinian refugees fled to Tyre, many of them by boat. The same year the Burj Shimali camp was established next to the Tyre peninsula, mainly for displaced from Hawla, Tiberias, Saffuri and Lubieh.
Also still in 1948, an irregular camp was established at the Jal Al Bahar coastal strip in the Northern part of Tyre, mainly by Palestinian refugees from the village Tarshiha. In Maachouk - with Burj Al Shimali 1 km to the East - Palestinian refugees settled on agricultural lands owned by the Lebanese State.
In the 1950s, the Armenian refugees from El Buss were resettled to the Anjar area, while Palestinians from the Acre area in Galilee moved into the camp.Many of the teachers at the Jafariya Primary and Secondary school were well-educated refugees from Palestine, amongst them the famous cartoonist Naji al-Ali, who worked as a drawing instructor in the early 1960s and went on to create Handala, the iconic symbol of Palestinian identity and defiance.
In the 1950s, the number of Lebanese from Tyre joining the diaspora in West Africa increased once again, corresponding to yet another rise in poverty.
After the formation of the United Arab Republic (UAR) under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser in February 1958, tensions quickly escalated in Tyre between the government authorities of President Camille Chamoun and local supporters of pan-arabism. In popular reaction, demonstrations took place in Tyre - as well as in Beirut and other cities - that promoted pro-union slogans and protested against US foreign policy.
In March riots in Tyre and solidarity strikes in other towns were reported, "when five youths were sent to jail for trampling on the Lebanese flag and replacing it with that of the UAR." On 2 April, five protestors were killed and twelve were injured. Opposition leaders like Rashid Karami expressed support for the people of Tyre. The neighbouring city of Saida joined the strike in Tyre. In May, both cities - like Tripoli - briefly came under the control of the Nasserist insurgents.
When Shia Sheikh Sayed Sharafeddine, the founder of modern Tyre, died in 1958, his sons and the Shia community of Southern Lebanon asked Sharafeddine's relative Sayyid Musa Sadr to be his successor. Sharafeddine had invited Sadr for his first visits to Tyre in previous years In 1959/60, Sadr moved to Tyre and as "one of his first significant acts" established a vocational training center in neighbouring Burj el-Shimali that became "an important symbol of his leadership".
In 1963, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) set up a “new camp” in Rashidie to accommodate refugees from Deir al-Qassi, Alma, Suhmata, Nahaf, Fara and other villages in Palestine. In 1968, there were 3,911 registered Palestinian refugees in Al Bass, 7,159 in Burj Al Shimali, and 13,165 in Rashidia.
Like all of Southern Lebanon, Tyre's population greatly suffered after the beginning of the civil war in 1975.
Due to mass-poverty a new wave of emigration from Tyre to West Africa, especially to Ivory Coast, though not so much to Senegal as before.
After numerous attacks and reprisals involving the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) invaded, as part of the so-called 1978 South Lebanon conflict, and Tyre was badly damaged. The official account by the United Nations is as follows:
"In the early 1970s, tension along the Israel-Lebanon border increased, especially after the relocation of Palestinian armed elements from Jordan to Lebanon. Palestinian commando operations against Israel and Israeli reprisals against Palestinian bases in Lebanon intensified.
On 11 March 1978, a commando attack in Israel resulted in many dead and wounded among the Israeli population; the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) claimed responsibility for that raid. In response, Israeli forces invaded Lebanon on the night of 14/15 March, and in a few days occupied the entire southern part of the country except for the city of Tyre and its surrounding area.
On 15 March 1978, the Lebanese Government submitted a strong protest to the Security Council against the Israeli invasion, stating that it had no connection with the Palestinian commando operation. On 19 March, the Council adopted resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978), in which it called upon Israel immediately to cease its military action and withdraw its forces from all Lebanese territory. It also decided on the immediate establishment of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The first UNIFIL troops arrived in the area on 23 March 1978."
Following an assassination attempt on Israeli ambassador Argov in London Tyre was damaged again in the 1982 Lebanon War. The city was used as a base by the PLO and was nearly destroyed by Israeli artillery. Historical buiildings like the Serail and Khan Al-Ashkar (Khan Sour) were heavily damaged by IDF shelling as well.
In 1982, at the beginning of the war, there were 5,415 registered Palestinian refugees in Al Bass, 11,256 in Burj Al Shimali, and 15,356 in Rashidia. Those in the Burj Al Shimali camp in 1982 and the Rashidieh camp between 1982 and 1987 were heavily affected. In Rashidieh "more than 600 shelters were totally or partially destroyed and more than 5,000 Palestine refugees were displaced." El Bass camp, on the other side, was spared much of the violence.
After the 1982 war, the city was the site of an Israeli military post. In November 1982, Hezbollah carried out a suicide-attack which was named "Jal Al Bahar" after the Palestinian gathering. It killed ninety Israeli soldiers and officers at their military headquarters in Tyre as well as an unknown number of Lebanese and Palestinians who were detainees in the complex. In October 1983, another such attack on the new IDF headquarters in Tyre killed 29 Israeli soldiers and officers, wounding another thirty as confirmed by the Israeli government. Only in 1985, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the two operations.
In 1984, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared Tyre a World Heritage Site in an attempt to halt the damage being done to the archaeological sites by the armed conflict and by anarchic urban development.
The long occupation left Southern Lebanon in general and Tyre in particular "depressed long after the 1991 cease fire" of the civil war.
In the 1998 Municipal Elections, the Amal Movement of Nabih Berri, who had attended Jafariya High School, won "a startling victory of twenty one seats in Tyre" ahead of Hezbollah. Six years later, Amal held Tyre as its traditional stronghold, but lost support in the District of Tyre to Hezbollah.
During Israel's invasion in the July 2006 Lebanon War, several rocket-launching sites used by Hezbollah to attack Israel were located in rural areas around the city. At least one village near the city was bombed by Israel as well as several sites within the city, causing civilian deaths and adding to the food shortage problem inside Tyre:
According to Human Rights Watch, on July 16 around noon a strike by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) on a residential apartment building behind the Jabal Amel Hospital - known as the Sidon Institute - at the outskirts of Tyre killed eight members of a family. At about the same time, five civilians were killed by another aerial assault on Burj Al Shimali, including two children. Later in the afternoon of that same day, another airstrike on a multistorey apartment building in Tyre, which also housed the Civil Defense Forces, killed 14 civilians, amongst them a one-year-old girl and a Sri Lankan maid. On August 13, five civilians were killed in Burj El Shimali, amongst them three children and one Sri Lankan maid. UNIFIL troops helped with heavy bulldozers to clear debris from those bombardments.
Shayetet 13 (Israeli naval commandos) also raided Hezbollah targets within the city. On August 6, IDF commandos raided a building on the outskirts of Tyre killing at least two Hezbollah fighters.
Meanwhile, again according to the official UN account, on the diplomatic level,
"On 11 August 2006, the Security Council, following intense negotiations, passed resolution 1701 calling for a full cessation of hostilities in the month-long war based upon, in particular, 'the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations' in Lebanon. Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution to the conflict, the Security Council created a buffer zone free of 'any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL' between the United Nations-drawn Blue Line in southern Lebanon and the Litani river".
Still in August 2006, Italian reinforcements for UNIFIL landed in amphibian crafts on the shores of Tyre. While UNIFIL had a troops strength of about 2,000 at that point in time, the Security Council soon expanded the mandate of UNIFIL, and increased it to a maximum of 15,000 troops.
At least since 2006, Tyre city and its Southern surrounding areas have since been part of the Italian UNIFIL sector, whereas its Northern surrounding areas have been part of the Korean sector. UNIFIL has been assisted by the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).
As UINIFIL has got a budget for small community projects as well, the Italian contingent in particular has supported a variety of civil society activities with great visibility. Amongst them are efforts to preserve the archaeological heritage, to assist artistic expression and interaction, to conduct medical campaigns, as well as to support the children's right to play by constructing playgrounds and supporting clown therapy for children with special needs.
The Amal Movement and Hezbollah are the most popular parties, representing all of the Shi'a seats in the city as of the 2009 elections.
On 9 December 2011, UNIFIL reported that one of its vehicles "traveling on a road at the southern outskirts of the city of Tyre was targeted by an explosion." Five peacekeepers of unnamed nationalities were injured and evacuated.
The Tyre Coast Nature Reserve covers over 380 hectares (940 acres) and divided into three zones: the Tourism zone (public beaches, the old city and Souks, the ancient port), the Agricultural and Archaeological zone, and the Conservation zone that includes the Phoenician springs of Ras El Ain. Due to its diverse flora and fauna, the reserve is a designated Ramsar Site. It is an important nesting site for migratory birds and the endangered Loggerhead and green sea turtle and the shelter of the Arabian spiny mouse and many other important creatures (including wall lizards, common pipistrelle, and european badger).
Large-scale excavations started in 1946 under the leadership of Emir Maurice Chéhab (1904-1994), "the father of modern Lebanese archaeology" who for decades headed the Antiquities Service in Lebanon and was the curator of the National Museum of Beirut. His teams uncovered most remains in the Al Bass/Hippodrome and the City Site/Roman baths. Those works stopped though soon after the 1975 beginning of the Civil War and many records were lost.
Excavation activities only started again in 1995 under the supervision of Ali Khalil Badawi.
The hostilities of the 2006 Lebanon War put the ancient structures of Tyre at risk. This prompted UNESCO's Director-General to launch a "Heritage Alert" for the site. Following the cessation of hostilities in September 2006, a visit by conservation experts to Lebanon observed no direct damage to the ancient city of Tyre. However, bombardment had damaged frescoes in a Roman funerary cave at the Tyre Necropolis. Additional site degradation was also noted, including "the lack of maintenance, the decay of exposed structures due to lack of rainwater regulation and the decay of porous and soft stones".
Since 2008, a Lebanese-French team under the direction by Pierre-Louis Gatier of the University of Lyon has been conducting archaeological and topographical work. When international archeological missions in Syria came to a halt after 2012 due to the war there, someof them instead started excavations in Tyre, amongst them a team headed by Leila Badre, director of the Archeological Museum of the American University of Beirut (AUB), and Belgian archaeologists.
Threats to Tyre's ancient cultural heritage include development pressures and the illegal antiquities trade. A highway, planned for 2011, was expected to be built in areas that are deemed archaeologically sensitive. A small-scale geophysical survey indicated the presence of archaeological remains at proposed construction sites. The sites have not been investigated. Despite the relocation of a proposed traffic interchange, the lack of precise site boundaries confuses the issue of site preservation.
A 2018 study of Mediterranean world heritage sites found that Tyre's City site has "the highest risk of coastal erosion under current climatic conditions, in addition to 'moderate' risk from extreme sea levels."
Like many of the cities in the Levant and in Lebanon, the architecture since the Lebanese Civil War in the 1970s has been of poor quality, which tend to threaten the cultural heritage in the built environment before the war.
The Bible makes several references to Tyre:
"By the mid-1950s there were four cinemas in Tyre, and four more soon opened in nearby Nabatieh. Many also hosted live performances by famous actors and musicians, serving as community spaces where people from different backgrounds came together."
In 1959, the “Cinema Rivoli of Tyre” opened and quickly became one of the prime movie theatres of the country. According to UNIFIL, it was visited "by celebrity who’s whos of the time, including Jean Marais, Brigitte Bardot, Rushdi Abaza and Omar Hariri." The likewise prestigeous "Al Hamra Cinema", which opened in 1966, was a venue for some of the Arab world's most famous performers, like Mahmoud Darwish, Sheikh Imam, Ahmed Fouad Negm, Wadih el-Safi, and Marcel Khalife.
The Tyrean artist Ghazi Kahwaji (1945-2017) was Lebanon's first scenographer and for three decades the artistic general director for the Rahbani brothers and Fairuz. He used this prominent position to promote "against confessionalism and fundamentalism". Between 2008 and 2010 he published the sarcastic three-volume book series "Kahwajiyat" about social injustice in the Arab world.
Since 1996, the annual "Festivals de Tyr" have taken place in the ancient site of the Roman hippodrome, featuring celebrated artists like singers Wadie El Safi, Demis Roussos, Kadim Al-Saher, Melhem Barakat, Majida El Roumi, and Julia Boutros. El Roumi's father Halim el-Roumi was from the “Al Baradhy” family in Tyre and born there. As a radio chief, he discovered the singer Fairuz and composed music for he in a close collaboration. He later became director of Radio libanaise.
In 2006, the "Centre de Lecture et d’Animation Culturelle" (C.L.A.C.) was opened by Tyre's municipality as the first public library of the city, with support from the Lebanese Ministry of Culture and the French Embassy in Beirut. It is located in the historical building of the "Beit Daoud" next to the "Beit El Medina" in the old town.
In 2014, the NGO Tiro Association for Arts rehabilitated the defunct cinema Al Hamra to establish the Lebanese National Theater under the leadership of "Palestinian-Lebanese street theater performer, actor, comedian, and theater director" Kassem Istanbouli (*1986). It launched the Lebanese International Theater Festival, the Lebanese International Short Film Festival, and the Tyre International Music Festival. In 2018, the Istanbouli Theatre troupe rehabilitated and moved to the Rivoli Cinema, which had been closed since 1988. It also runs the "Mobile Peace Bus”, which is decorated with graffiti of Lebanese cultural icons, to promote arts in the villages of the neighbouring countryside. Istanbouli:
In 2019, the film "Manara" (Arabic for lighthouse) by Lebanese director Zayn Alexander, who shot the movie at the Al Fanar resort in Tyre, won the Laguna Sud Award for Best Short Film at the Venice Days strand festival.
Jafariya High School was the first intermediate and secondary school in South Lebanon.
Collège Élite, a French international school, is in Tyre.
In August 2019, the 17-year-old Ismail Ajjawi - a Palestinian resident of Tyre and graduate of the UNRWA Deir Yassin High School in the El Bass refugee camp - made global headlines when he scored top-results to earn a scholarship to study at Harvard, but was deported upon arrival in Boston despite valid visa. He was readmitted ten days later to start his studies in time.
An accurate statistical accounting is not possible, since the government of Lebanon has released only rough estimates of population numbers since 1932. However, a 2016 calculation by UN HABITAT estimated a figure of 201,208 inhabitants, many of them refugees:
The city of Tyre has also become home to more than 60,000 Palestinian refugees who are mainly Sunni Muslim. As of June 2018, there were 12,281 registered persons in the Al Buss camp, 24,929 in Burj Al Shimali and 34,584 in Rashidie. In the ramshackle "gathering" of Jal Al Bahar next to the coastal highway, the number of residents was estimated to be around 2,500 in 2015.
In all camps, the number of refugees from Syria and Palestinian refugees from Syria increased in recent years. Tensions developed since these new arrivals would often accept work in the citrus and banana groves "for half the daily wage" that local Palestinian refugees used to earn.
In early 2019, some 1.500 Syrian refugees were evicted from their informal settlements around the Litani river for allegedly polluting the waters which are already heavily contaminated.
The Lebanese nationality population of Tyre is a predominantly Shia Muslim with a small but noticeable Christian community. In 2010, it was estimated that Christians accounted for 15% of Tyre's population. In 2017, the Maronite Catholic Archeparchy of Tyre counted about 42,500 members. Most of them live in the mountains of Southern Lebanon, while there are just some 500 Maronites in Tyre itself. The Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Tyre - which not only covers the District of Tyre in the South Governorate but also neighbouring areas in the Nabatieh Governorate - registered 2,857 members in that year.
Many families in Tyre have relatives in the Western Africa diaspora, especially in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivoy Coast and Nigeria. In Senegal, they are "primarily second-, third-, and fourth-generation migrants, many of whom have never been to Lebanon."
As of 2016, Olive trees were reported to comprise 38% of Tyre’s agricultural land, but producers lacked a collective marketing strategy. While Citrus reportedly comprised 25% of the agricultural land, 20% of its harvest ended up wasted.
Tyre houses one of the nation's major ports, though its cargo traffic is limited to the periodical import of used cars.
In the harbour area the Barbour family continues the tradition of building wooden boats.
Tourism is a major industry.
Lebanon's General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre (GDLRC) recorded for Tyre a 4.4 percent growth rate for land transcations between 2014 and 2018, the highest rate in the country during that period.
Tyre is twinned with:
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