March 22, 2015

More on the South

Sour at sunset

Sour at sunrise

More south for you. For reasons that are unclear to me, when I roam around Lebanon, I usually end up either north or east, but not often south. It is not because of security reasons; the south is as safe as the rest of the country. It’s not due to traffic either, because Beirut has basically only one way going north and one going south. It’s just how it is. But last weekend I was in Tyre (Sour), and it was a reminder that I should be spending more time down there; the place is beautiful.
The old town at night

These days Tyre is a small provincial town; in its heydays it was once one of the famous Phoenician ports. It was already a town some 4,000 years ago. It had a king (Hiram) and it was doing business with the rulers of Israel and the pharaohs of Egypt, it was rich, because it produced purple dye (made from crushed Murex shells), and traded with the other Phoenician colonies in the Mediterranean. Actually, the fact that Roman catholic archbishops still wear purple these days comes from there, when purple was so expensive that only royalty could afford (and wear) it. The archbishops were considered the princes of the church (source).  Even Alexander the Great hung around there in 332 BC (and obliterated the entire population, it seems).
The harbor in the evening

This current civilization is not in favor of Tyre: The town went from great wealth to poverty, and nothing is left of that former glory, other than plenty of ruins. These days they live off citrus orchards, banana plantations and fishing.  But the old town and its harbor are still beautiful. I stayed in what they call these days a boutique hotel, Dar Alma. I haven’t figured out what the ‘boutique’ part is, but it’s an old Lebanese house, on the shore, converted into a hotel.  Maybe you should visit; it’s safer than Tunis, just to give an example. Just sayin’.
More sour. I don't know if this was sun rise or sun set.
 More on the history of Tyre and even more (if you’re into this kind of stuff). 

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