Tripoli is the second largest city in Lebanon. It has been a busy port for more than 3000
years and remains to this day the trade center for North Lebanon as well as for coastal
cities of northwestern Syria.
Tripoli gets its name from the Greek Tripolis, name which it owes to the plan of the town
as it was divided into three sections. Modern Tripoli is divided into two parts:
El-Mina or the port area, and the town of Tripoli proper. El-Mina is crisscrossed by broad
avenues and still features two Arab towers, the only remaining ones of several which
protected the town on the sea. The more famous of the two is the Tower of the Lion,
a fine specimen of Arab military architecture.
The old quarter of Tripoli
is especially interesting to the tourist for its souks, old inns (khans), public baths
(hammams) and schools (madrassahs). The souks and khans are a maze that cover a vast area,
and form a conlomeration of various trades: tailors, jewelers, perfumes, tanners and soap
makers, each souk a huddle of tiny, often frontless, shops, and one souk leading into
another. The position of the Grand Mosque on the edge of the souks is the best
orientation to keep one from getting lost in these mazes.
Overlooking the city is the
Castle of Sinjil which was built by Raymond de St. Gilles in 1100 during the First
Crusade. The castle was partly destroyed and later rebuilt by the Mameluks. It has
an imposing view from the battlements overlooking the city. Its interior is full of
surprises, lofty archways, staircases, square rooms and banqueting halls.
one can drive into the mountains to Besharre, the town of
Gibran Khalil Gibran, to visit his museum and his tomb, then on the Cedars of Lebanon,
stoping on the way between the two at the Kadisha Caves to admire the nature-sculpted
beauty caused by water sedimentation.